A snappy introduction that sets out the main argument for the piece. I'll cover the main ideas right here and hint at my conclusion without giving the game away completely.
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too; if you can wait and not be tired by waiting,or being lied about, don't deal in lies, or being hated, don't give way to hating, and yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; if you can dream — and not make dreams your master; if you can think — and not make thoughts your aim; if you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, or watch the things you gave your life to broken, and stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools; if you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, and lose, and start again at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss.
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone, and so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them; 'Hold on!'
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch.”
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, if all men count with you, but none too much; if you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run - yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, and - which is more - you'll be a man my son!
"If—" is a poem written in 1895 by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling. It was first published in the "Brother Square Toes" chapter of Rewards and Fairies, Kipling's 1910 collection of short stories and poems. Like William Ernest Henley's "Invictus", it is a memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism and the "stiff upper lip" that popular culture has made into a traditional British virtue. Its status is confirmed both by the number of parodies it has inspired, and by the widespread popularity it still enjoys amongst Britons. It is often voted Britain's favourite poem.
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same”
This line is written on the wall of the Centre Court players' entrance at the British tennis tournament, Wimbledon, and a part of the poem was read in a promotional video for the Wimbledon 2008 gentleman's final by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
According to Kipling in his autobiography Something of Myself, posthumously published in 1937, the poem was inspired by Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, who in 1895 led a raid by British forces against the Boers in South Africa, subsequently called the Jameson Raid. This defeat increased the tensions that ultimately led to the Second Boer War. The British press, however, portrayed Jameson as a hero in the middle of the disaster, and the actual defeat as a British victory. Jameson's life — and the connection to the poem — is covered in the book The If Man.