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Personal Biography of Poet
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Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer,
and novelist. He was born on December 30, 1865 and died on
January 18, 1936. He was born in Bombay, India, but moved to
England when he was 5 years old. As a child, his Portuguese and
Indian attendants told him stories that would later influence his
writing (“Joseph Rudyard Kipling-Biography”).
During his childhood, his parents sent him and his sister, Alice, to
live with a couple that abused him regularly.
The European Graduate School states that in January 1878,
Kipling went to school at the United Services College, a school to
prepare boys for the British Army. During his time, he fell in love
with Florence Garrad, and she became the model for Maisie in
his first novel, The Light That Failed.
At the end of his school year, he lacked the academic ability to
get into Oxford University on a scholarship. Also, his parents
lacked the money to finance him.
Personal Biography of Poet (continued)
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In 1886, Kipling published his first book of poems Departmental Ditties. His editor
asked Kipling to produce short stories that would later be published. Many of these
stories would be in the Plain Tales from the Hills. This was Kipling’s first collection of
prose that was published in Calcutta in 1888.
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During 1889 and 1891, Kipling pushing his novel The Light that Failed. Kipling, an
American author, and a publishing agent, Wolcott Balestier had collaborated together
on the novel The Naulahka.
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In 1907, Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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Kipling had only one son, John. He died in 1915 during a battle in the First World
War. This loss inspired Kipling’s poem, “My Boy Jack.”
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If you can keep your head when all about you
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
But make allowance for their doubting too;
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
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:
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!
Historical/Social
Background of
“If ”
“If ” is a poem that was written in tribute to the British
imperialist politician. This poem was inspired by the
military actions of Leander Starr Jameson. He was the
leader of the failed Jameson Raid against the South African
to overthrow the Boer Government of Paul Kruger.
Analysis of “If”
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 The poem is divided into four 8-line stanzas with rhythm. The
structural elements used are line, couplet, strophe, and
stanza.
 This poem uses repetition, meter and verses to express
emotions in the poem.
 In the poem, there is only one complete stop which is the
exclamation mark at the end. This structure suggests that
the man is an on-going process that is hard and challenging.
 The first four lines all rhyme with each other, the first three
end in ‘you’.
 The poetic devices Kipling uses to make it meaningful is
metaphors, similes, and onomatopoeia.
Explanation of “If”
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,
The first stanza of the poem grasps the idea of individuality. This
stanza teaches about self-worth, there is always going to be people
disagreeing or misunderstanding you; but never doubt yourself and
your opinion. You always have the power to reject their opinions.
Although, you should always be confident, don’t be over confident.
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:
The first line talks about being patient. You can wait, but can you
really be patient? The second line talks about honesty and integrity,
you don’t want to be lied to and you should always be truthful. The
third line hints about love, mercy, and forgiveness. The fourth line
talks about humility ( being able to be modest) and being respectful
to others.
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!"
The first two lines talk about being able to have trust and faith in you.
Be able to be bold and risk all you have to something that isn’t
guaranteed. The next line six, and line eight talks about ,again,
perseverance, in spite of all the obstacles you may face overcome them
and be determined to regain yourself. The fourth line talks about being
able to lose, but not complaining about it. The next line and line seven
means that you can regain all you have loss and remain constant again,
so don’t give up and hold on and be determined to finish.
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 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!
The first and second line talks about being able to envision
possibilities and being able to take action. The next two lines talk
about faith, when you meet “Triumph and Disaster”, you should have
trust and confidence in “them”. The next lines say that you have to be
able to remain constant and not change one-self. The next line of this
stanza talks about being able to retain self-control and always having
peace in mind, always being optimistic. The last two lines state that
when you see something that you have worked hard for destroyed,
endure. Be able to have perseverance and resilience, everything will
take its shape again.
The first two lines talk about modesty and being able to be flexible and
going out of your comfort zone. The next two lines talks about faith,
since no one can hurt you, have self-confidence and carry-on. Make the
best out of your time. The last two lines of “If” hints on the skill of
leadership and success. If you are able to have necessary traits
everything can be yours.
*
“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Historical/Social
Background of
“My Boy Jack”
Wikipedia’s article regarding “My Boy Jack” implies that
Kipling wrote it after his son, John (aka Jack), his 18 year
old, went missing in September 1915 during the Battle of
Loos, during World War I. Kipling felt that it was his fault
for his son's death because he made his son join the army
even though John had failed to join twice because of his
bad eyesight. Rudyard Kipling knew a friend in the army
that pulled tricks allowing John to join the army.
Analysis of “My Boy Jack”
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 The poem has four stanzas.
 Kipling uses the word ‘tide’ in every stanza, and there
are repeated patterns in each stanza.
 There are cross rhymes in the poem, and the rest of the
ending of the lines are ‘tide.’
 A unique property presented in this poem is that it
seems to have two speakers, one asking and one
answering whets being asked. This creates a back and
forth pattern. It is structured like a dialogue.
Explanation of “My Boy Jack”
“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
Upon receiving devastating news, that his son had gone
missing Rudyard Kipling wrote “My Boy Jack”.
The first speaker of this poem asks for news regarding his
son, but the second speaker answers not this tide. The
repetition of the word “tide” , probably refers to death at
sea.
The blowing wind and receding tide gives us a feeling of
“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
absence. Once something is gone its gone forever. It leaves
Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide
The last stanza talks about the sadness felt by Kipling. Civic
you with a feeling of incompleteness. How can you feel
complete again with this missing piece?
He left with integrity and dignity.
duty was important many young men had to die for their
country, but the lost of his son gave Rudyard Kipling a
feeling of absence.
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‘My Boy Jack’, and ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling both are
rhyming poems.
They are opposing ideas. In ‘My Boy Jack,’ the poem
is about not being able to have news about Jack, and
not knowing where he is. In ‘If’, the poem is about
not giving up, and being able to do something.
Both poems express the poet in his own life. In ‘If,’
he is talking about the wars and his own tragic life.
It contains mottos in life, and a blueprint for
behavior and self-development.
In ‘My Boy Jack,’ Rudyard was expressing how his
son died during the war, and how they couldn’t find
him.
Comparison
Learning about the poem “If” has helped us
deepen our understanding of poetry because it
teaches its readers that poetry is not limited to
rhymes but can also have important meaning
behind it by using other poetic devices and
terminology to show character and structure. This
specific poem says a lot about its poet, Rudyard
Kipling, by highlighting his hardships and
struggles in life through the use of poetry and it
was the truth in his words that drew me to this
poem.
Significance
Original Work:
Summer Fun
Written by Fion Chen
Once the squawking has begun,
you know that it's time for fun.
Though the winds don't cease their roam,
within new scents arise of foam
When you see the warm blazing sun,
you know it's time to go to the beach for a
run.
Original Work:
The Other Side
Written by YingYing Feng
What's on the other side
As my wonder knocks
To escape this box
What waits on the other side
I have tried
To escape
As the opportunities await
The ones I have left to create
If I could just escape
Original Work:
The Wait
Written by Angela Zhou
So much of our lives spent waiting
But for what; we know not of
Sometimes even waiting
For something that might not even come to us
Fear of the unknown
Stops us from venturing further
Even after all the biding
We dread the moments in between
‘Til we have to wait again
Original Work:
Patience
Written by Jing Wen Ren
Patience
Patience is virtue
One can wait, but can they endure
Wait through the anxiety, and wonder
Don’t act as if there’s no time to wait
It takes time for fate
There are times where you have to be still
It all relies on your will
You can’t rush something
That cannot be rushed
Chapman, Alan. “If- Rudyard Kipling.” Business Balls.
Google.,
2001. Web. 5 June 2013.
“If.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia., 2 June 2013. Web. 5 June 2013.
“Joseph Rudyard Kipling- Biography.” The European
Graduate
School. EGS., 2012. Web. 5 June 2013.
“My Boy Jack (poem).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia., 2 Apr. 2013.
Web. 5 June 2013.
“Rudyard Kipling.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia., 5 June 2013.
Web. 5 June 2013.
Works Cited

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