IF by Rudyard Kipling

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War (which has no place here in this particular blog :o) ), Guilford Courthouse and so many other commerative battles and events are coming up soon and, in thinking about the unsung heroism of the men and women who struggled for the freedom to pursue their dreams unmolested , I started to recite snatches of IF,  Kipling’s wonderful poem written to his son in 1910. It’s  timeless and I wonder how it would  translate to actual people, their struggles and decisions made during  a remarkable wastershed in history. The lines are numbered and I challenge all the members to read this poem and think of events or people of the time , whether in Tennessee (No.Carolina then)  or anywhere in the Thirteen Colonies who personify each line or set of lines.  I did a few so you can see what I’m talking about; add to them if you want or chose others. Send me your notes and I will add them in and I think this may form a wonderful mosaic of  human nature and what motivates common people to do brave things. You can either do it in the comment or send your ideas to ramona_ato@embarqmail.com. Wouldn’t it be neat to have this done and made into a poster to hang in the Visitor’s Center (with Jennifer’s approval of course)  for the kids for the May Seige?

1       If you can keep your head when all about you
          Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
 3        If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
            But make allowance for their doubting too;
5         If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
            Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
7          Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
             And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

9           If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
              If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
11          If you can meet with triumph and disaster
               And treat those two imposters just the same;
13           If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
                Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
15           Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
                And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

17           If you can make one heap of all your winnings
                And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, (Signing of the Declaration of Independence)
19             And lose, and start again at your beginnings
                 And never breath a word about your loss;
21            If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
                 To serve your turn long after they are gone,
23            And so hold on when there is nothing in you
                  Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

25                If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
                      Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;  (Ben Franklin was the darling of Versailles but prided himself on his humble origins and never lost sight of his mission)

27                If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; 

                      If all men count with you, but none too much;
29                 If you can fill the unforgiving minute
                       With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
31                   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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