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If— (1895) is a poem by Rudyard Kipling, and was first published in the Brother Square Toes chapter of Rewards and Fairies, Kipling's 1910 collection of short stories and poems. It is a memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism and the "stiff upper lip" that popular culture has made into a traditional British virtue. Its status is both confirmed by the widespread popularity it still draws amongst Britons, and the number of parodies it has inspired.

According to Kipling, in his autobiography Something of Myself, the poem was inspired by Dr Leander Starr Jameson, who in 1895 led an ill-fated raid by British forces against the Boers in South Africa. This defeat increased the tensions that ultimately led to the Second Boer War. The British press, however, portrayed Jameson as a hero in the middle of the disaster, and the actual defeat as a British victory.

Kipling If (Doubleday 1910).jpg

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;

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