The New Year is traditionally a time for resolutions. I don't make resolutions anymore, because I've found I don't keep them. But for those with more self-discipline (or more optimism) than I, here's a poem that gives us all something to shoot for.
It's probably my favorite poem. Yes, it's doggerel, like most of Kipling's poetry. But like the best of Kipling, it's doggerel of a high quality. And I love its high ideals. If today such sentiments are seen as old-fashioned, it's only because we live in a decadent age.
As is always the case with Kipling's verses, it is best read aloud.
Fun fact: Kipling's sister, Alice Fleming, was an amateur medium of some repute. To save her family from embarrassment, she was always known as "Mrs. Holland" in written reports. She played a large role in the famous "cross correspondences." Details here.
And now, our poem ...
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 imposters 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 breath 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!
(Source: everypoet.com )