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March Slice of Life No. 22.
Poetry Friday

If you can dream and not make dreams your master;
If you can think and not make thoughts your aim; . . .

From “If–” by Rudyard Kipling

I was digitally thumbing pages in a teacher book* from yesteryear: Poems Teachers Ask For — Selected by Readers of “Normal Instructor, Primary Plans”  and paused to read “If—” by Rudyard Kipling.

Kipling’s repeating phrase “If you can …,” reminds me of Miss Rice and her efforts to rid our classroom, our thinking, our self-opinions of the influence of Can’t. Miss Rice was my second grade teacher, a genteel lady with beautiful gray hair that had a hint of purple which I admired. {I now know it was probably from using Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing.}

I loved Miss Rice.

When Miss Rice heard anyone speak of Can’t, she would stop everything we were doing and have us join her — gathering up Can’t with our hands, carrying him to the tall windows, and tossing him out of our classroom. There always was so much drama and we loved it. Miss Rice would then place her hands on her hips and solemnly say, “Can’t does not belong in this classroom. Can’t never did anything.” And with that we would continue on as if nothing had happened.

Miss Rice believed in us.
She knew we could.
And I believed her.


Miss Rice with Alice



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!
–Rudyard Kipling

*Poems Teachers Ask For an anthology of poems most frequently requested for publication by readers of the magazine: “Normal Instructor – Primary Plans.” With a publication date of 1919, these poems are now in public domain.
Links to Gutenberg Project copies of this book–
A downloadable copy
An online copy with alphabetized listing of poems.


March 2019 SOLC–Day 22
Thank you to

Two Writing Teachers


This week’s
#PoetryFriday Roundup
is hosted by Rebecca
at Sloth Reads

Poetry Friday Schedule Jan – June 2019