I have been looking at an old and worn out poetry book that my grandfather gave me as a gift and found some really lovely poems to read, all from the romantic period. Literature buffs will understand “romantic” in the right sense. For the others, I am not going to explain. I chanced upon Daffodils and I was drawn back to 3 of my all time favorites – From a railway carriage, Daffodils and IF. Although I love a lot more works, these three are my top three. I memorized them as a child, understood them as I grew and love them now. Their simplicity, their practicality and the childlike joy I get when I read them is simply beyond words. The book was only on romantic poetry, no IF or From a Railway Carriage. So, I mentally recited them while sipping on my coffee and felt myself transported to the days when I wore pigtails.
As I stand at the brink of a whole new year, IF takes a special place. Its timeless and universal relevance now gains focus as I look at the things I want to accomplish in 2014 and count back on the things left undone in the past year. Sometimes I think it needs a lot of strength to apply this thoughts in this poem to real life and that I will fail miserably. But this is poem is all about getting up and walking on. Its all about seeing how many punches you can take and still keep standing, Rocky Balboa style. Not that I have been punched a lot. But just that I need inspiration.
Here is IF for all of you.
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, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
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,
The Image is from John Young’s website, apparently it is the cover of this postcard sized 1910 edition of IF. So vintage. So Beautiful.