If

I am a big fan of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”, about all it is to be a man. I’ve had an inkling of a thought for a while about doing a tribute to it from a woman’s point of view. I thought someone might have done it before but I only found one example on t’internet that wasn’t very good: it didn’t follow the metre or structure of the original poem which I thought rendered it less powerful. I want to emphasise that this is in no way a riposte to the original – it is a respectful tribute…

 

If

If you can keep your mind when some about you,

Would tell you it’s worthless to them and you,

In its difference and step beyond doubting you,

But make allowances for their shortcomings too;

If you can charm and not be tired by charming,

Or be belittled but not resort to bitterness,

Or being harmed, not give way to harming,

And yet don’t look too good or let down your sex:

 

If you can hope with the best of your wisdom,

If you can grow but not show it’s your aim,

Lest you stir the ire of fools and their sons,

Who would infect your heart with guilt and shame;

If you can live in a world that is not your own,

That was built neither by nor for you,

Yet bear with grace the age-old bemoans,

That you don’t thrive as it’s thought you should do:

 

If you can bestow those around you with love and care,

Never seem selfish and treat each challenge,

With gratitude and strength, not despair,

Greet with stoicism each new rite of passage,

If you can encourage your flesh and blood,

To reach for the stars long after you are gone,

And be their shelter against any flood,

Love them more than yourself and never feel put upon:

 

For you know that your role is an honour,

If you can accept that some may despise you,

And may see only whore or Madonna,

Purely for what you have from Nature’s Truth,

If you can understand that some will see a Body and not the Soul within it,

And still keep in your heart that this is, now also, your world,

Yours is the Future and everything in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a woman, my girl.

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One thought on “If

  1. Deborahh says:

    Very impressive work!

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