I love using this poem, If by Rudyard Kipling, in the classroom. We dissect this poem line by line and we don’t go on to the next line until we’ve talked through the one before. This is hard for a lot of the at-risk kids I usually work with but the eventually work their way through it. I have them what they think Kipling meant and then I have them talk about it as it compares to their lives. Then I ask them to write there own poem modeled on the poem.
Here’s a version of one my tries at this.
If you can learn that your value comes from being yourself,
not who the rest of the world thinks you should be
If you can recognize that no one person
sits in judgement of you
If you can lean into the understanding that difficult people too,
carry their burdens
If you can not cause pain to yourself, to others
If you can freely share your knowledge
knowing it will just increase your wealth
and manage your wealth so that the
seeking of it doesn’t manage you
If you can let go of hate and anger and fear
and all the useless emotions that hold you back
while at the same time filling yourself
and the world with love and laughter and compassion
If you can encourage dream following in everyone you meet
while nurturing dreams of your own
If you can let yourself believe
There is nothing you cannot do.
–Susan Taylor Brown
I’ve never thought of using this one as a mentor text Susan. I’ve love to see what the students write after examining it as you describe. I like your words as being focused not only on self, but on self doing something for others.
Linda, I’ll have to dig out some of the student work. It’s really fascinating. With the kids in lockup, I was surprised at how many young men wrote out advice for their babies.
If you can remain steadfast
Against harshness around you
If you can hold on to dreams
You will always come through
If you can love yourself
Even when others do not
If love is the key to life
That will mean such a lot
If you can see goodness
In everything that you do
If bad times befall you
Hope will always shine anew
If you can meet life head on
Don’t stray far from the road
If burdens get too heavy
Stop, lighten the load
If you can find happiness
Grasp it with both hands
If sorrow surrounds you
Then resist it’s commands
If you can chase rainbows
Run as fast as you may
For rainbows are rare
They don’t come every day
If you can see the beauty
The world has to give
If you can accept this
Get out there and live
If you can live life
Without any fear
Those you hold dear
– Anne McKenna
The beauty is all around us, isn’t it, Anne? We just have to let ourselves see.
Thanks for playing along.