Themes            Inspirational/ Motivational/ Aspirations

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Type                 Dramatic Monologue

Links               Mother in a Refugee Camp – Courage

                        Do Not Go Gentle – Courage/exhortation (encourage to fight)

                        My Last Duchess – Dramatic Monologue

Background

  • Written by Rudyard Kipling and was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature
  • Work based on his knowledge of the Middle East
  • The poem “If” is addressed to his son, John, who died in WWI
  • Presents opposite values – “keep…lose” etc – suggesting a central part of life’s achievements are steering a middle course

Structure

  • Addressed to the writer’s son
  • For most of the poem, readers assume it is addressed to people but the words “my son” come as a shock and change it to a dramatic monologue

Language

  • The title and repetition of “If” is important
  • The tone the one of exhortation (a powerfully given speech, urging someone to do something)
  • Uses persuasive techniques
  • Some qualities are written with capital letter – Triumph, Disaster, Will – to emphasise there importance
  • The values Kipling wanted his son to aspire to are very lofty and don’t mention softer values such as kindness
  • Repetition of the word “you” engages the reader

Form

  • Regular rhyme scheme and meter
  • Orderliness almost is a military rhythm
  • Four verses of eight lines

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READ:
Poem at Thirty-Nine – Alice Walker: Poem Analysis

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