Poetry: Being a Man by Kipling

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Similarly, Kipling approaches the concept of life in a prudent manner and forms a series of advice to the reader in the didactic poem “If.” The poet informs the reader on how to balance their life and become a trustworthy leader in society. The main themes presented in “If,” are leadership and maturity. The poem is considered to be a “memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism and the "stiff upper lip" that popular culture has made into a traditional British virtue.” “The stiff upper lip,” is a phrase originated from Sparta in Ancient Greece and most commonly heard of as part of the idiom “keep a stiff upper lip,” which means to face misfortune bravely and to suppress any display of emotion. Kipling presents these two meanings skillfully in the poem. “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you” or “If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,” are one of the many advises Kipling gives in the poem that all lead to one success; being “a Man.” Kipling has combined “Spartan toughness with Stoic detachment,” presenting not only the ideal of the “stiff upper lip” in the poem but the overall achievement of Manhood and leadership in life. “The stiff upper lip,” is a phrase that has become symbolic to the British and has particularly inspired the English public school system during the age of the British Empire where Kipling at that age had endured “harsh discipline,” at his school. Another similar poem that expresses “a memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism and the stiff upper lip” is William Ernest Henley's poem “Invictus” which means unconquered in Latin. The poem represents Henley’s struggle with tuberculosis, a lethal disease he had fallen victim to at the age of twelve. The poem depicts the true meaning of courage, ... ... middle of paper ... ...s everything beautiful in the world or even life itself. The “sun in flight,” represents the lifespan of people’s lives. “Flight” means that our lives move rapidly therefore we need to cherish and live every moment to the fullest with the time we have under the sun. A similar concept is also addressed in “To his Coy Mistress,” by Andrew Marvell who believes that life is shortly lived. The last stanza of the poem implies that the only way to influence the run of time is to speed it up and live it more intensive, “…we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run.” In “If” Rudyard as well emphasizes that we should live life to the fullest and occupy every minute “With sixty seconds worth of distance run,” this is a metaphor for life and a conceit telling us we should run—making the most of every second we have—and not waste time walking in our life time.
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