“If” versions

Sigh – just today, I was revisiting a bookmark to print out, on pretty paper, two poems, to include within Graduation Cards to be mailed – to young folks.

2 young women and 1 young man, whom I’ve known, pretty much, since they were born, are graduating this spring.

Imagine my surprise, when I learned, there is an “If” version, for girls (many versions, in fact, Who Knew?? Certainly Not Me until today…)

I simply fell down a rabbit’s hole, for a short while, after I saw the “If for girls” link loud and proud on website where I can copy/paste the text from into a letter, of Mr. Kipling’s version, instead of typing it out, AGAIN!

Yes, I lost a hard drive and an external hard drive last December, otherwise, I would’ve had my ‘templates’ ready at the go to personalize the ‘letter/included poem” to each graduate – personal touch, through partial automation, doncha know – –

Alas, I rebuild repositories lost, as I go and when need be.

Kerflumpled & Discombobulated over my recent Discovery

I, born female and for those who care about such things, totally identify with being female/prefer the pronouns of her/she, labels of daughter, sister, mother, etc as preferable to being called, “Hey! You!” or “B***ch” etc…,

Well, I see the reasons why versions were written/adapted but, also, I do not….

All at the same time….

I keep trying to be Yin/Yang in a daily reality of Dualism (Right/Wrong, Left/Right) etc.

For me, Personally….

I Don’t need a special version that includes female identifiers in a few lines throughout, in order to hear/connect with the ideals expressed within it, though, I can also see the points made either by an individual or in reference to the daily reality the female authors live(d) within, as true for them and many – and yet, for myself, I do not come away with the same core ‘ideals’ from re-works, in my heart – They seem too attached to society, eras, individual fields of endeavor – too much of ‘societal norms’ still held deep within, that asks both men and women to match some ‘factory core of quality standards in this front/that’ in order to be a contributing member of society

I blame the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution thinkers for this way of thinking, personally – but well, I write this out on a computer, powered by electricity that I don’t personally generate all by myself, and I don’t have to spend 20 years of my life getting this post chiseled out in stone, so there is that little side benefit….. 😀

Nor did I need a ‘special version’ to strive towards the ideals expressed for being, to me, a ‘human being who can survive life on earth, in any era they find themselves in, best as they can, until they die….”

I was FINE! FINE! I tell you!

….with the beauty in Mr. Kipling’s original work of navigating best as ya can, the vagaries and inconsistencies of society, change, etc., without getting too deep into the never ending philosophical fronts, or further, ‘what ifs’ –

In fact, having a lifetime of experience dealing with doubting men, and knaves, here and there, around me?

I suspect Mr. Kipling probably wrote for the daughters of his era, too – in his mind – but maybe not, I haven’t done a full study of Mr. Kipling – maybe he was a product of his times, maybe he was the biggest woman hater in the world, what would I know??

But, in the end, in my internal world sans obvious bias (either way?), when the word ‘men, man, mankind’ etc., shows up in writing?

I internalize it as “human being” unless the surrounding context indicates otherwise.

I ponder the work, and myself, to see if it measures up for all humans to do so, on any front, as laudable goals or expressed ideals, or perhaps simply a tale of woe that demonstrates struggles of ‘the time’ it was written (for many!) or refers to the personal struggles of the one who penned it.

To me?

The works that weave over and over, throughout history – in original version, adaptations, responses, updates, etc.?

Somewhere within these works, there lies a ‘human problem’ that transcends differences of gender, culture, race, religion, politics, etc.

It is, over time, to me, an indication pointer/scout, to the care and feeding of human beings, no matter what tech abounds, where they live, who’s in charge – etc.

And we humans, fail at meeting those needs, collectively, for all/many, over and over and over – on many fronts, despite our systems, our expressed ideals, our advancements in this field or that for ‘better’.

So sharing with you, my lil journey without/within this morning – JUST in case you get a laugh out of my ‘What is this? There are multiple versions??” Ignorance, OR in case, you too, were blissfully ignorant of the tip of this “If” work’s iceberg, but find the topic interesting, too….

I didn’t do a ‘full deep dive into’ researching, citations, verification of authenticity, for each of the ‘quickly found, via superficial search at Duck Duck Go, either – that’s your Disclosure Warning 😀

But each ‘version’ verse below, includes direct link to the first 3 that came up in Duck Duck Go search that included unique versions of “If for Girls” and appears to have foundational launch board from Mr. Kipling’s original – “If”


Featured image by Sheikh86295328 at Pixabay.com

The Original Version of “If”

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!

by Rudyard Kipling
via "If" poem @ poetryfoundation.org

“An If for Girls” at same website….

(With apologies to Mr. Rudyard Kipling)

If you can dress to make yourself attractive,
       Yet not make puffs and curls your chief delight;
If you can swim and row, be strong and active,
       But of the gentler graces lose not sight;
If you can dance without a craze for dancing,
       Play without giving play too strong a hold,
Enjoy the love of friends without romancing,
       Care for the weak, the friendless and the old;

If you can master French and Greek and Latin,
       And not acquire, as well, a priggish mien,
If you can feel the touch of silk and satin
       Without despising calico and jean;
If you can ply a saw and use a hammer,
       Can do a man’s work when the need occurs,
Can sing when asked, without excuse or stammer,
       Can rise above unfriendly snubs and slurs;
If you can make good bread as well as fudges,
       Can sew with skill and have an eye for dust,
If you can be a friend and hold no grudges,
       A girl whom all will love because they must;

If sometime you should meet and love another
       And make a home with faith and peace enshrined,
And you its soul—a loyal wife and mother—
       You’ll work out pretty nearly to my mind
The plan that’s been developed through the ages,
       And win the best that life can have in store,
You’ll be, my girl, the model for the sages—
       A woman whom the world will bow before.

by Elizabeth Lincoln Otis
via "An If for Girls" poem @ poetryfoundation.org

“If for Girls” Adaptation

If you can trust yourself though others doubt you
And conquer fears that limit what you dare
So you can freely give to those about you
The skills and talents that are yours to share;

If you can live, not for your pleasure only,
But gladly lend your gentleness and grace
To warm the hearts of those whose lives are lonely
And help to make their world a better place;

If you can balance dreams with practicality
And deal in facts, but never lose ideals,
If you can face the harshness of reality
And find the truths that prejudice conceals;

If you can be courageous when defeated
And humble in the face of victory,
Or give your best until a task’s completed,
However difficult that task may be;

If you can temper facts with understanding
And seek to gently guide, not to control,
And neither be too lax nor too demanding,
But keep in mind the worth of every soul…

If you can strive, not caring who gets credit,
And work at building bridges, and not walls,
Or hearing idle slander, just forget it
And never fail to help someone who falls;

If you can give your help without begrudging
The patience, time and effort you impart,
Or look at others’ weakness without judging
And see, not with your eyes, but with your heart;

If you can take resources that surround you
And use them in the way you feel you should,
You’ll be a woman…and all those around you
Will be the richer for your womanhood!

attributed to Gale Baker Stanton
via "If for Girls" @ ronliskey.com 

Deanna Rodger’s “If ”

If you can keep your head when those around you

Don't notice what you do;

If you can trust yourself when others doubt you,

Because the only trust you need comes from you;

If you believe in more than you have ever seen;

If you dream big every time you train;

If you've ever learned about winning and losing,

And how to treat those feelings both the same;

If you stand against trolls and gossip

That twist your words into clickbait headlines;

If you've been hated and kept on chasing champion status,

Taking any backlash in your stride;

If you can chase the wins despite injuries

Which have sat you out from selection,

And all alone face your recovery,

Refusing to let it bench ambition;

If you can force your focus and your muscles,

When they've nothing left to give,

To keep on working and, despite the struggle,

Dig deep and say… "I can do this!"

If your heart beats loud at stadium support,

And if you leave it all in the ring, on the track, the pitch or court,

You'll know that greatness is greater than gold,

It's inspiring change from what's gone before;

If you've ever felt unstoppable,

Or felt that together is what makes you strong,

Yours will be the world to take by storm,

And you'll be a woman - who's won!

-by Deanna Rodgers
via "Deanna Rodger's If (2019)" @ bbc.com

P.S. – I still like the original, the best – I started to write out why, but well, that is a story for another day, related to a phone convo I had with a male, long-time mentor of mine, about 2 weeks ago.

He asked me a question and I answered as I could, from my perspective – and yet, while I was off on another simple task, that devolved into a ‘quest’ for more information, this morning….

I realize – Hmmm… interesting – Me thinks these two things have a connection – just not certain yet, how –


2 thoughts on ““If” versions”

    1. Yes – While I appreciate the windows into various struggles and themes and arenas, in each of the ‘If for Girls’ works and think they are beautifully done by their authors, I still feel more deep rooted, across time, core truths of human nature and society, lie within the original, when I become blind/non attached to pronouns listed – the topic of writing without using a single word that indicates the gender of a person continues to fascinate me – not a recent phenomena for me – 5-6 years ago? A nearly hour long dissection of the challenges in doing so, by writers of all genders/age spans, took place before me in a writer’s group – I think, perhaps, that was the day I became conscious of how my mind tends to strip out gender/etc, when reading many works – and focus more on the ideas expressed – – where I learned to do that, I have no idea – perhaps given my early instruction in reading/reciting poetry assigned from my dad, and his focus on the story/the ideals, etc?? The quote from Shakespeare in Love movie comes to my mind….”I don’t know…it’s a mystery!” – 😀

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: