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Friday, December 19, 2008

Selected Rudyard Kipling Quotes [updated]

Earlier today, Governor Rod Blagojevich discussed the writings of Rudyard Kipling in his statement to the press, politicians and public [transcript]:

Rudyard Kipling wrote, 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 and 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.

I'm not sure which of Kipling's works that is from. So, I pulled several random Kipling quotes in an attempt to try and figure out what Rod is into. Not that that is actually possible. But maybe...

I'm still trying to figure out the meaning of some of these:

A man's mind is wont to tell him more than seven watchmen sitting in a tower.
A people always ends by resembling its shadow.
All the people like us are we, and everyone else is They.
And that is called paying the Dane-geld; but we've proved it again and again, that if once you have paid him the Dane-geld you never get rid of the Dane.

Oh, I get these:

Borrow trouble for yourself, if that's your nature, but don't lend it to your neighbors.
Everyone is more or less mad on one point.
Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.
For the sin they do by two and two they must pay for one by one.
He wrapped himself in quotations - as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.

Oh dear. Rod's a fan? I've heard this before:

I have struck a city - a real city - and they call it Chicago... I urgently desire never to see it again. It is inhabited by savages.

Ah, this is what I think he was talking about. He left out the part in bold:

If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you. The world will be yours and everything in it, what's more, you'll be a man, my son. [From the poem "If--."]

They made us read several of Kipling's works in school. The one I remember most was The Jungle Book. I don't remember ever reading "If--" until just a few minutes ago.

Since Rod and I are the same age, I imagine we read the same things even though we didn't go to the same school. "If--" must have made an impression on him. But, what does it really mean to him other than words to send the non-Kipling scholars amongst us scrambling?

Update: I've read the poem several times, and almost memorized it. I've heard it recited out loud, which I highly recommend. And I'm reprinting it here since it's in the public domain:

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!

I don't think Rudyard Kipling had someone of Rod Blagojevich's stature in mind when he wrote this. I don't think Kipling was thinking it would be used as some kind of quasi-defense for crimes alleged. No. Not at all. It was written as inspiration for the downtrodden. But it seems as if Rod has adopted it as his own.

Also acknowledging that I may be the only one who didn't know the quote or poem.

Posted by Marie at December 19, 2008 8:56 PM


Here nor there: One of the favorite tried-and-true punishments the Christian brothers used to mete out at De La Salle High School in New Orleans was to make us memorize and recite long poems. You couldn't leave out a word or jumble them up because the brother knew the poem cold. I had to memorize If. I even remembered some of the verses although that was over 30 years ago. Also had to memorize Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Helped that I hardly understood a word of it at 16. Anyway, wonder if Blago went to a Christian Brothers school.

Posted by: Rob Author Profile Page at December 20, 2008 9:15 AM

Blagojevich is a public school kid. He reportedly started at Lane Tech -- a place I know since my dad went there (and my nephew might next year, too -- and transferred to a place called Foreman -- another North Side school. I don't think either one subscribed to Christian Brothers pedagogy.

Posted by: Dan at December 25, 2008 2:22 AM

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