“IF”, the story of a poem at EC London 30+

‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling

EC English 30+ Advanced 1DB

In 1910 English writer Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem ‘If’ as a piece of advice to his son. If his son follows all his father’s suggestions he will grow up to be a ‘man.


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;

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 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”;

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!

Rudyard Kipling


In response to the poem the Advanced class wrote their own versions, dedicated to young girls and giving them advice for growing up into women. Here are their wonderful versions of a classic poem.


If you can copy this merry lark, oh jolly!

Always appearing in his neat finest feather

Lithe, gracious, flippant, ever pleasing his Master.

Sometimes he’s playing coy when it’s necessary.


If you can understand feminine wittiness

Never has done better that the shyest fondness

And there’s no good to withstand against your nature

Or for this eccentric fool that you call culture


If you can stay humble, modest in all your move

Respect is the rare value you need to prove

A bit of secrecy is always usefully

But don’t tarnish it with absurd melancholy


If you silence the voice of impetuous youth

And listen to the advice of elderly truth

You’ll flourish and shine as the perfect woman.



If you want to be a creative girl

Take all opportunities and dreams you get

Look after your wishes like a squirrel

Draw your life in glittering colours and red

Love your family and never forget

Life is a given treasure in a hidden cave

By the time you get in and feel very safe

And which is more – you’ll be a brilliant woman



If you want to be a respectful girl
And walk through your life with honour and faith

If you can be in control of your thrill
And believe you will get it and stay safe

If you want to shine like a beautiful pearl
Even against people who don’t like it

Then you will have everything you need to be a woman, my girl



If you can make your own way and not care

About what other people think of you

If you can enjoy the moment and share

Every pleasure, everything that is new

If you can create with your hands and mind

A world of beauty, fairer and better

If you can find your place in humankind

You will be a woman, my dear daughter



If you have to decide in your life once

Which way you want to go, the left, the right

If you can balance reasons with joyance

And believe in love and strength, don’t take fright

If you remain in childlike curiosity

And match with cleverness and experience

You won’t be wrong if you do it patiently

You’ll be a woman then, my girl, my maid



Interested in letting your creativity speak and sharing it with your classmates, come and join us for English classes for adults in London 🙂 !!