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“You’ll be a man my son.” ~Rudyard Kipling (video)

A friend forwarded this commercial to me. It’s Harvey Keitel reciting a poem, “If” by Rudyard Kipling. There is something in the poems of the great writers that awakens a man’s soul. In this one, the ability of a man to be himself, to live in honor, no matter the circumstance.

Harvey Keitel–”If”


It is interesting to me to note again how brilliant psychologists at ad firms use poetry of men to inspire. At a deeper level, they are paid to identify the wounds and loss people feel and show their solution (i.e. product or service) at the right moment. Most men today are boys in older bodies. We were brought into manhood with products, like alcohol or cars, not with the company of other great men.

There is a yearning, deep inside, for what Kipling speaks of here. A yearning only satisfied by choosing the road less traveled to discover what being a man truly means.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Kevin Bergen, MFT March 2, 2011, 12:39 pm

    One of my favorite all-time poems! This version leaves out the best stanza:
    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!’

    I memorized this poem years ago and still gain from it by reviewing it often.

    • Erol Fox July 13, 2011, 9:35 am

      Thanks Kevin!

      Imagine if men looked to these standards again, rather than the standards of fashion or consumption…

      Here’s the whole poem. Brilliant!


      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 imposters just the same;

      +++ missing from video +++
      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 wornout 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 breath 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!

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