Thursday, July 2, 2009

Somewhere Between Keats and Kipling

I love poetry. I love it especially when it’s symbolic. I love it most when it’s archetypal. Analyzing poetry can be as fun as opening a wrapped present and find another wrapping inside – then you can go on and on unwrapping it until you find the real gift inside. And what satisfaction you feel when you hold that tiny, precious gift between your fingers!

I took Romantic Poetry as my major in college, and focused on the works of Keats. I love his dreamlike ideas, his archetypes and fine touch. I graduated after writing a thesis on his Endymion: A Poetic Romance.

Yet, somehow, whenever life trials get the best of me, seldom do I reflect on the great works of those Romantic poets I love so dearly. It is a simple poem by Rudyard Kipling that I mostly read over and over. And with each reading I find new strength and hope, whatever trouble may befall. It goes like this:

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!

Simple, isn’t it? It’s very much like a father’s admonition to his son. Sometimes, when things get so out of hand and we feel like losing our grip, it is not the great ideas and deep, wise words that can steady our feet.

All we need is some comforting words from one who really cares…

No comments:

Post a Comment