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Photo of English author RUDYARD KIPLING with a quote from his most famous poem "IF".

Photo of British author RUDYARD KIPLING as a young man. The famed writer would become the youngest author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature during his age.

The full text of RUDYARD KIPLING'S most famous poem "IF."


Darryl Maximilian Robinson Performs Rudyard Kipling's "IF" On Sunset Blvd In Hollywood!-0

Veteran and award-winning stage actor and play director DARRYL MAXIMILIAN ROBINSON ( The Founder of the multiracial chamber theatre THE EXCALIBER SHAKESPEARE COMPANY OF CHICAGO and a Los Angeles-based theatre artist ) performs RUDYARD KIPLING'S classic poem "IF" as a bit of "Street Theatre" on Hollywood's Sunset Blvd. on the West Coast.

File:Rudyard Kipling from John Palmer 4988.jpg

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.

English writer and Nobel prize winner, born in India. These days Kipling is perhaps best known as the creator of Mowgli, star of The Jungle Book, though he wrote many other stories.

Many of Kipling's works, including The Jungle Book, are set in British India, and popularised most of the associated tropes. His other works include some early Science Fiction, while his literary style, particularly indirect exposition, was a significant influence on Campbell, Bertolt Brecht and Robert A. Heinlein.

Kipling's stories include:

Poems include:

  • "The White Man's Burden"
  • "If--" ("If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you" — one of his most famous poems, much quoted. It can be seen by players entering Centre Court at Wimbledon.)
  • "My Boy Jack"
  • "The Thousandth Man"
  • "Recessional"
  • "The Three Decker"

He lost a son in World War One and was responsible for choosing two of the common phrases associated with Remembrance in the UK: "Their Name Liveth For Evermore" and "Known Unto God" (on the graves of Unknown Soldiers). And... referred to it in Double Entendre of all ways:


If any question why we died,

Tell them, because our fathers lied.
Epitaphs of the War, "Common Form"

Poems from Kipling, sometimes set to music, are popular references in any military fiction or Sci Fi. His work (as well as that of Tennyson) received a recent boost in public attention after they were quoted by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (ironically enough considering his quote about Chicago that appears on The Windy City trope page).

Kipling's work includes the Trope Namers of:
Kipling's works with their own trope pages include:
Other works by Kipling provide examples of:
  • Affectionate Parody: The Just So Stories is this for various different oral traditions (hence all the repetition), most obviously The Butterfly That Stamped, which is a parody of the Koranic style ("Now listen and attend!")
  • Alas, Poor Yorick
    • Including a rather... unconventional scene in The Ballad of Boh Da Thone.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: A common trick of Kipling's was to follow up a short story with a poem looking at it from the point of view of a secondary character or villain. The results can be startlingly different — compare 'The Knife and the Naked Chalk' to 'The Song of the Men's Side'.
  • Author Tract. Be grateful for the common workers and soldiers that hold the empire together, not least the soldiers who, just before Kipling's time had been looked down upon by middle-class British.

 For it's tommy this and tommy that and shuck him out the brute

But it's savior of his country when the guns begin to shoot


 Is the torrent in spate? He must ford it or swim.

Has the rain wrecked the road? He must climb by the cliff.

Does the tempest cry halt? What are tempests to him?

The service admits not a "but" or and "if."

While the breath's in his mouth, he must bear without fail,

In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.


 Now Chil the Kite brings home the night, that Mang the bat sets free

The herds are shut in byre and hut, for loosed til dawn are we

Now is the hour of power and pride. Talon and tush and claw.

Come hear the call, good hunting all, that keep the Jungle Law.

  • Bad Cop, Incompetent Cop: Not much, but... one meets Cool and Unusual Punishment in Steam Tactics.
  • Bad Liar: The weather in "Danny Deever" is — odd.
  • Beast of Battle: Parade Song of the Camp Animals
  • Boarding School
  • Chekhov's Gun: Parodied mercilessly in the Just So Stories, specifically How The Whale Got His Throat, in which we are reminded practically every paragraph not to forget that the protagonist wears suspenders (braces). In the end these do play a part in the story (he ties a grate in place with them in the whale's throat) but this is hilariously minor compared to the leadup.
  • City of Spies: Lahore in Kim
  • Creator Breakdown: Kipling was an ardent imperialist. Then his only son died in World War One, after dad had pulled some strings to get him into the service when medical conditions might otherwise have kept him out. His "Epitaphs of War" afterwards were extremely bitter about the nature of the conflict, including the famous "our fathers lied" segment.
    • Not to mention:

 I could not dig, I dared not rob;

Therefore I lied to please the mob.

Now all my lies are proved untrue

And I must face the men I slew.

What tale shall serve me here among

Mine angry and defrauded young?


 What is the sense of 'ating those

'Oom you are paid to kill?

  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!
  • Elephants Child
  • Exact Words: Both "A Smuggler's Song" and "The Shut-Eye Sentry" are about people being warned to look the other way at certain moments, so they'll be able to truthfully say afterwards that they didn't see any sign of wrongdoing.
  • Framing Device: Kipling makes extensive and careful use of framing devices in his short stories and narrative verse, sometimes doubly framing stories (a story within a story within a story).
  • Friend to All Living Things
  • Funny Foreigner: Played with in nearly every way possible.
  • God Guise
  • Greedy Jew: Subverted in The Treasure and the Law.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: The gist of "The Thousandth Man".
  • Knight in Sour Armor: The protagonist of Tommy. Also a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Lawful Neutral: Some of his political opinions come across as this.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: "Marklake Witches" plays with the trope by having it narrated by the character who's locked out of the loop — and who, at the close of the story, still hasn't realised there's a secret being kept from her, let alone learned what it is. Recognising that her various moments of bemusement are connected, and figuring out the nature of the connection, is left as an exercise for the reader, and if achieved alters the tone of the story significantly.
  • Malaproper: The narrator of Just So Stories, with such famous ones as "'satiable curtiosity" (for 'insatiable curiosity').
  • Mama Bear
  • Manly Men Can Hunt: Captains Courageous and The Jungle Book

 The Jackal may follow the tiger, but cub when thy whiskers are grown, remember the wolf is a hunter, go forth and get food of thine own


 We have spent two hundred million pounds to prove the fact once more,

That horses are quicker than men afoot, since two and two make four;

And horses have four legs, and men have two legs, and two into four goes twice,

And nothing over except our lesson--and very cheap at the price.

  • Not So Different: Zig-zagged. Sometimes he described Europeans as just another tribe, sometimes as superior. Perhaps the summation was that he in fact thought Europeans were another tribe (and thus shouldn't make too much heavy weather) but that, by chance they happened to be a tribe that had a lot to teach other tribes.
    • Also Kipling was a good character writer and had a great fascination for how other people lived. His characters seem like real people that happen to be following the customs of their respective tribe/caste/whatever and not merely extensions of stereotypes.
    • The Roman Centurion's Song is about a Roman Centurion pleading not to be sent home to Rome, as he has lived among the 'primitives' of Britain so long that he has gone native. Kipling was making the obvious comparison of how many British soldiers felt after living in India, and pointing out that once upon a time it was the Britons that were the subject of colonial ambitions by a 'more civilised' power and were viewed as savages by their colonial masters.
  • The Paragon: "Kitchener's School" claims the English in general are this:

That the magic whereby they work their magic--wherefrom their fortunes spring--

May be that they show all peoples their magic and ask no price in return.


  Damnable! Oh, damnable! But I'll be considerate. I'll be merciful. By gad, I'll be the very essence o' humanity! Did ye, or did ye not, see my notice-boards? Don't attempt to deny it! Ye did.


 He spoke of the heat of India as the "Asian Solar Myth";

Came on a four months' visit, to "study the East," in November,

And I got him to sign an agreement vowing to stay till September.

...[The summer temperature hits one hundred twenty] That was an end of the business. Pagett, the perjured, fled

With a practical, working knowledge of "Solar Myths" in his head.

  • Trickster: Several, including Stalky (Stalky in Land & Sea Tales, Stalky & Co., A Deal in Cotton in Actions and Reactions, The Honours of War in A Diversity of Creatures), who fought anything unpleasant in Boarding School with tricks and little provocations. And won.

 Stalky: Now, we must pull up. We're injured innocence — as usual. We don't know what we've been sent up here for, do we?

M'Turk: No explanation. Deprived of tea. Public disgrace before the house. It's dam' serious.


 Nilghai: It’s a chromo,’ said he,--’a chromo-litholeo-margarine fake!


 Dick: Then the art-manager of that abandoned paper said that his subscribers wouldn’t like it. It was brutal and coarse and violent,--man being naturally gentle when he’s fighting for his life. They wanted something more restful, with a little more colour. I could have said a good deal, but you might as well talk to a sheep as an art-manager.

  • True Companions: The Galley-Slave is about the brotherhood between a crew of galley slaves.

  To the bench that broke their manhood, they shall lash themselves and die.