Friday, November 19, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling

Source: Librivox (mp3)
Length: 2 minutes, 39 seconds
Reader: Chip

The poem: This poem can be dismissed in modern times as Victorian sentimentality. The poem councils stoicism, moderation, and virtue. At first reading, Kipling presents a series of impossible rules to live by that are contradictory and lengthy.

Yet, aside from the insinuation that only a man can have these qualities, this is actually good advice. Kipling councils a middle road, more of a melding of Eastern and Western thought than the arrogant colonialism that is usually credited to him. He acknowledges the difficulties of life, while asserting that these can be turned, judo-like, to the credit of he who receives those difficulties. Listening with fresh ears breaks away the familiarity around these words and breaks open their depth as a credo to live by rather than a tedious set of standards.

Rating: 7/10

The reader: Chip has an American radio announcer's voice. He's somewhat overwrought, but this fits well with the subject and background of this poem. He varies his pitch, tone, and pacing to dramatically present the poem, bringing out the meaning behind the words. This is a interpretation of the poem that would do Kipling proud.

photo by academy of american poets via Flickr. Creative Commons license: attribution, non-commercial, no derivative works 

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