Compare and Contrast 'If' by Rudyard Kipling
Topics: Poetry / Pages: 3 (610 words) / Published: Oct 26th, 2010


The three most common poetic devices that are presented in this poem are repetition, personification, and alliteration.

Repetition In this poem, Kipling uses repetition with the word “you” throughout the entire poem to emphasize how important “you” is.

There are three examples of personification here:
1. The first is in Stanza 2, when he states,

“…make dreams your master…” (line 9)

The first stanza talks of our self-confidence, how we need to believe in ourselves and be true to one's self. There are always going to be people who think differently than you, or misjudge you for one reason or another. I think the poem is saying that we need to rise above this, and do what we know is right and just. Don't let others provoke you into actions you know are wrong.

2. Stanza 2

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same.” (lines 11 – 12)

The second stanza is about overcoming obstacles that get in your path, whether by others, or of your own making.

3. Stanza 3

“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone” (lines 21 – 22)

1. The first occurs in stanza 2:

“with wornout tools” (line 16)

2. stanza 4:

“sixty seconds” (line 30)

"If" is written in iambic pentameter,
The poem is also written in four stanzas of eight rhyming lines, according to the pattern abab cdcd. "If" takes its name from the repetition of the word "if" at the start of the "a" and "c" lines, each of which comprise eleven syllables. The "b" and "d" lines each contain ten syllables.

The poem is fairly straightforward.
It's listing many circumstances in life that can bring us down, break our spirit, and lose our morals or self-discipline and saying that if you can hang on through these by sheer will and inner integrity, you can do anything. And the world is yours for the asking.
For example where

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