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Wednesday, 19 August 2015


"If -" was written by British writer Rudyard Kipling in 1895 and first appeared in print in his 1910 collection of short stories and poems, Rewards and Fairies.

Kipling modeled his ideal on the character of the British colonial statesman Dr Jameson, who in 1896 led the Jameson Raid in South Africa in support of the non-Boer colonists there, in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government. Despite his failure, the British press considered Jameson to be a hero in the midst of a disaster.

"If -" was voted the UK's favorite poem in a 1995 poll of BBC listeners.

Some consider it to be the world's most successful poem, having been translated into 27 languages.

An inscription from "If-" adorns the doorway through which the players walk onto Centre Court at Wimbledon. It reads "If you can meet with Triumph & Disaster; And treat those two impostors just the same."

Originally written for Songfacts

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