Poems to Live By

July 22, 2010

By C. J. Stegall-Evans

When I was in seventh grade Mr. White made us memorize and recite poetry in front of the class. I already loved poetry but this dimension invited a new perspective on my view of the art. Two of the poems I learned were Be the Best of Whatever You Are by Douglas Maloch and If  by Rudyard Kipling; for whatever reason I cannot seem to get these poems out of my head this summer. Just like certain music is the soundtrack of our life and it evokes memories that takes us back to a simpler time the same can be said of poems. Poems take on different meanings when read at different points in our lives. I don’t what happened to Mr. White but the seeds he planted are still bearing fruit. Since these poems have always been special to me (Thank you Mr. White) I thought I would share them with you. Please enjoy!

 

 

Be the Best of Whatever You Are

By Douglas Maloch

If you can’t be a pine on the top of a hill
Be a scrub in the valley, but be the best little scrub on the side of the hill
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree,
If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass
And some highway happier make.
If you can’t be a muskie, then just be a bass,
But the liveliest bass in the lake.
We can’t all be captains, we’ve got to be crew,
There’s something for all of us here.
There’s big work to do and there’s lesser work, too,
And the thing we must do is the near
If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail.
If you can’t be the sun, be a star.
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail.
Be the best of whatever you are.

 

If

By 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 all 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!

 

© 2010 C. J. Stegall-Evans (All Rights Reserved)

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

Categories: Writing.