Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday's Poetry: "If"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Last week in this space I highlighted the song Yesterday, When I Was Young, a beautiful ballad made famous by country artist Roy Clark back in the 1960's.  I heard that oldie on a local radio station as I was driving home from spending time with the family of a friend who was lying comatose in the hospital -  a friend from my youth, many yesterdays ago when I was young.

One day during one of those hospital visits I went out to lunch with my friend's family and another couple who were visiting.  Wanting something quick and good, we stopped at Jimmy John's for sandwiches.  That particular chain of sandwich shops  has quirky inspirational slogans plastered about the place, many encouraging the eating of sandwiches.  Posted at our booth that day was the following poem by Rudyard Kipling, simply titled If.   My friend's wife and I each read it and commented on the poem's simple beauty.

My close friend since childhood, James Steven Carroll, passed away yesterday evening at the young age of sixty-five.  That tremendous loss will be addressed in a future Ramble posting, but for the time being, today's poetry selection is dedicated to him.  It is, on multiple levels, descriptive of the man that I knew so well and for so long.

Rest with Angels, Mayor Carroll.

by Rudyard Kipling

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 worn-out 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!

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