If by R Kipling

Published December 4, 2020 148 Views

Rumble "If—" is a poem written in 1899 by Rudyard Kipling. It was first published in the "Brother Square Toes" chapter of Rewards and Fairies, Kipling's 1910 collection of short stories and poems. Like William Ernest Henley's "Invictus", it is a memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism and the "stiff upper lip" that popular culture has made into a traditional British virtue. Its status is confirmed both by the number of parodies it has inspired, and by the widespread popularity it still draws amongst Britons (it was voted the UK's favourite poem in a 1995 BBC opinion poll). The poem's line, "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same" is written on the wall of the centre court players' entrance at the British tennis tournament, Wimbledon. The entire poem was read in a promotional video for the Wimbledon 2008 gentleman's final by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
According to Kipling in his autobiography Something of Myself, posthumously published in 1937, the poem was inspired by Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, who in 1895 led a raid by British forces against the Boers in South Africa, subsequently called the Jameson Raid. This defeat increased the tensions that ultimately led to the Second Boer War. The British press, however, portrayed Jameson as a hero in the middle of the disaster, and the actual defeat as a British victory.