If by Rudyard Kipling

Written in 1910, ”If” is a poem that consists of sound advice from a father to his son. Each stanza reflects on different challenges or possible life scenarios and how to handle them. Stanza one deals with taking responsibility for one’s own actions and how to handle the behaviors of others who are not acting responsibly. Stanza two is all about failures and successes and how it’s important to experience both. It also talks about how yes, people will treat you poorly, but always get back up and stand tall. Stanza three is about taking risks and being able to deal with all possible outcomes. Finally, stanza four deals with how to react to others and how to act around others. Know yourself, know your friends, and know your enemies. Let others depend on you and depend on others, but not too much. If you follow all of these words of wisdom, you will be a good man, my son. “If” is a wonderful poem to teach children about growing up, making good choices, and believing in yourself.

Student Activities for If

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865. He was a British poet, a novelist, and seen as an innovator of the short story due to his gift of narrative writing. At age 41, he was honored with the Nobel Prize in Literature, and became the youngest and first English-Language writer to win the prize. Some of his other notable works include The Jungle Book, Just So Stories for Little Children, “Mandalay”, and “The White Man’s Burden”. Kipling died on January 18, 1936 following surgery at the age of 70.

Essential Questions for "If”

  1. What is the tone of this poem?
  2. What are the themes of this poem?
  3. Who is the audience for this poem? Specifically, and generally?

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