Friday, April 24, 2015

NPM - Day 12

    The motivation for the NPM series is to celebrate April 2015 -- the National poetry month (hence NPM in the title), by sharing a favorite poem of mine every day of this month, starting April 13, 2015. 


    Who does not know about Jungle book -- the "magical" tale of  feral child Mowgli, his friends Baloo and Baghera and foes like Sher Khan. A tale of such luminous fun that only Rudyard Kipling could have written. Rudyard Kipling was an Anglo-Indian born in Bombay, during an era when the Indian subcontinent looked quite different from today, with fewer fractures along international borders and in hearts of its people.

    My first introduction to Kipling was of course the famous televised version of Jungle Book that used to air on Sunday mornings on Doordarshan -- some thing all of us, who had enjoyed the childhood of nineties in India (and probably adults too!), used to wait religiously for. I remember singing along the quirky lyrics of the famous title song by Gulzar [Remember" Jungle jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai, Chadddi pehan ke phool khila hai, phool khila hai! :)], and noticing the credits mentioning "Based on Jungle book by Rudyard Kipling". Fast forward a lot of years -- I rediscovered Kipling's writings, living here in US, when I received my first tablet Kindle Fire as a gift from my husband. His collection of short stories "Plain tales from the Hills" was one of my first Kindle "purchases" guided solely by my recognition of Kipling's name amidst the titles available for free [1]. Each story had the same engaging simplicity, as the Jungle Book, and read more like diary entry of a traveler through the hilly towns of Northern India. I was hooked again!

    Forward a few more years, and I discovered this poem by Kipling that I am sharing today. It is my tribute to all those works by him that have enamored me in myriad ways since my childhood. And to a writer who still amazes me by revealing a new facet of his writing, every time we cross paths!

[1] Since then, I have gone much more reckless with my finances when it comes to e-books! It doesn't help that you are always only "one-click" away from your favorite titles.


-- Rudyard Kipling

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!

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