If by Rudyard Kipling

‘ If’ is a poem written by Rudyard Kipling. The poem is aimed at advicing his son or any male on how to be a man, how to succed in life and in other owrds how to be the ‘ perfect man’ which is unattainable. Kipling himself knew that these tasks will be immpossible to meet up with fully, which is why I believe he named this poem ‘If’ rather than ‘How To Become A Man’. The main theme in this peom is about advicing a someone in a younger generation and teaching him moral. The theme and the structure are somehow entwined with each other.

The more you decode one, the better you understand the other. ‘If’is a poem of 4 stanzas made up of 8 lines respectively. I think Kipling made the poem organised by arranging it into accurate parts to express becoming a man as a stage when your filthy habits are discarded and replaced with the habit of being prim and proper. The general shape of the poem is very uneven; lengths of lines vary from line to line. I believe this was done to show that life is not a straight road, there will be bends but you will surely get where you are going Read More.

As you read the poem, must peole might get the idea that if the do all these things then they won’t encounter any disasters. Because of this, Kipling arranged this poem unevenly to show that even though you may take his advice, life is still very unpredictable, and things may be harder than they seem. Kipling writes the whole poem in form of a question, continusiously repeating ‘if’ showing that there is doubt in his mind that this person will be able to live up to these tasks. If the person were to live up to this tasks, they have shown perseverance which is one of the themes of this poem.

Kipling uses the word ‘if’ repeatedly to show the reader indirectly that you need to be determined inorder to be a man. The structure of each verse is almost regular with an eight line stanza of usually iambic pentameters, a regular rhyme scheme and a skilful use of repetition of lexis, syntax and prosody to reinforce the points being made. Majority of poem is structured around the use of the surbodinate clause ‘if’ the only exsemting the last 2 lines in the fourth stanza ‘Yours is the Earth and...’ .

The last 2 lines, unlike the rest of the poem is in form of a statement rather than a question. This shows and ending, a result of doing all these things being asked of him. A surbordinate clause cannot stand alone, in likewise manner becoming a man in unachieveable without attaining some of the characters listed in the poem. In the first stanza for example, we see how the whole poem is constructed and how balance is used to drive home the points being rasied in the poem.

Most lines have an internal balance, the first line relies on the second for the conclusion. The poem is a dramatic monologue this shows that Kipling is saying because he has been there and expereicned things himself he knows better than his son, therefore he is in the right postion to advice him. There is no one else present in this peom, there it is not argumentative showing the reader that this is what you have to do to become a man. No questions asked. Compare this poem to another in the Anthology in the areas of Mood/Tone and Subject Matter.

Express your views about the two authors’ attitudes in presenting the issues in their separate poems. I will be comaparing ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling to ‘Once Upon a Time’ by Gabriel Okara. ‘If’ is a poem aimed at Kipling’s son or in general to any growing young male. It expresses the values needed to become a man and advices on how to do so. ‘Once Upon a Time’ is a poem which is directed from a father to his son about the way the western values have influenced the cultures he was brought up with – the African culture.

Both poems explore the concept of childhood, they both speak from the perspective of an older one, one who was expericened it first hand. These poems have quite similarities. One of the key similarities is the subject matter. ‘If’ is foucused at Kipling’s son in the same manner, ‘Once Upon a Time’ is aimed at his own son. Possessions Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Other Poets section.


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