2nd year English notes | if

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2nd year English notes | if
2nd year English notes | if

2nd year English notes if chapter 09

Understanding the Poem

Q 2. The poet lists many qualities of maturity which he believes make certain adults superior to others. Select those characteristics that you feel are the most important and explain why you feel as you do.

The poet lists many qualities of maturity which he believes make certain adults superior to others. According to me, the most important ones are as followed by the reason behind their selection:

  1. Sensibility: One should be sensible enough to think about the right and wrong that happen in his life. He should be able to make a difference between the true or fake relationships that surround him in order to have a peaceful life.
  2. Honesty: As every one of us is well aware of the famous proverb “Honesty is the best policy”, I must say that yes it is one of the significant building blocks of the personality of any individual. If one is honest towards his own self, towards others, towards his duties and responsibilities, only then would he be able to take pleasure in his life by attaining peace of mind and self-confidence.
  3. Humility: One should show a down to earth attitude in any case, either in triumph or catastrophe. It is one of those qualities which is liked by Allah Almighty too. Modesty makes a person elevated in the eyes of God.

Q 3. The poet believes that these values must be understood by all young people who wish to become true adults. Do you agree?

Yes, I agree with the poet’s belief about the virtues that he mentioned in the poem to be understood by all young people who wish to become truly adult. I am in favour of it because almost all the personality traits are discussed by the poet in this poem which is necessary to lead a simple, tranquil, and happy life. For instance, if a person is not truthful, sensible, honest, and courageous, how he would be able to live a contented life.

Language Study

Q 5. Which conditional has the poet used in this poem? Does he think that his son is capable of achieving the virtues or not?

First conditional has been used by the poet in this poem. In my point of view, to some extent, his son is capable of achieving some of the virtues as it is impossible for a single individual to have all in one’s self. His father has given him advice in such a simple and easy way that the son has to put all his efforts to inbuild some of them if not all in his personality so to live a peaceful life by achieving his dreams and goals.

Q 6. Write five sets of conditional sentences of your own with all the three conditionals.

Set 1:

Conditional I: If I study, I will pass the exam.
Conditional II: If I studied, I would pass the exam.
Conditional III: If I had studied, I would have passed the exam.

Set 2:
Conditional I: If I have enough money, I will go to Japan.
Conditional II: If I had enough money, I would go to Japan.
Conditional III: If I had had enough money, I would have gone to Japan..

Set 3:
Conditional I: If you work hard, you will pass the exam.
Conditional II: If you worked harder, you would pass the exam.
Conditional III: If you had worked harder, you would have passed the exam.

Set 4:
Conditional I: If you hurry, you will not miss the train.
Conditional II: If you hurried, you would not miss the train.
Conditional III: If you had hurried, you would not have missed the train.

Set 5:
Conditional I: If you go to bed earlier, you will not be so tired.
Conditional II: If you went to bed earlier, you would not be so tired.
Conditional III: If you had gone to bed earlier, you would not have been so tired.


Q 7. Now that you have understood the poem, write a paraphrase/explanation you own words. You may title it as “Characteristics of a Mature Adult.

Characteristics of a Mature Adult
The basic theme of the poem is the advice given by the poet to his son in particular and to all human beings in general about what character traits are necessary for a person to own in order to live a successful, peaceful and contented life.

Stanza 1:

In this stanza, the poet is showing a path to his readers towards leading a life full of virtues and righteous acts. He is basically giving advice to his son but in general, it is useful for the whole of humanity if one understands it with open mind and soul. The poet asks his readers to have enough courage to accept their mistakes and be responsible for all their actions and deeds rather than blaming others for such acts. According to him, one should have trust in himself and should be concerned much about his assigned tasks. He gives the utmost stress on controlling one’s emotions under any circumstances. He gives a lesson of forgiveness to the entire mankind that one should be generous to forgive everyone including those who try to harm him at any point of life. The poet teaches his son the importance of waiting and advises him not to let lies and hatred spoil the character and persona even if the ones around him seem to be infected with them.

Stanza 2:

In the second stanza, the poet focuses on the importance of achieving aims and objectives in one’s life. He advises his son to roam in the world of dream and wonder but not to such an extent that he forgets his efforts requires for the fulfilment of those very dreams as he asks his readers to master such as modesty. Even in the face of winning and losing, never let them expose your weaknesses in front of others. He advises the readers not to let others control your behaviour and one should face defeat with courage and determination to overcome next time before it influences you. He strengthens the idea that defeat in life is a must as it teaches a valuable lesson to a person. At the end of the stanza, he says that it is not an easy task to achieve your goals, aims, and dreams, sometimes people become jealous of your success and they try to create troubles for you but never lose hope and be motivated towards your aim. He says if you think your dream is crushed by someone or by nature, then no need to worry, you just have to go back and rebuild it with passion and devotion.

Stanza 3:

In this stanza, the poet throws light upon the most important aspect of one’s life i.e. risk-taking and hope realization. He gives a message to his readers that risks must be taken in life but one should not lose hope in any case rather he should give his aim a new start with full enthusiasm to overcome the defeat. According to the poet, a true man should never give up, but if he wants to achieve bigger, better goals he should be able to risk all other achievements for that purpose. Self-confidence, self-satisfaction is the roots of the tree of inner strength. That tree of inner strength only grows up tall and healthy with courage and determination of one’s own self.

Stanza 4:

In the last stanza of the poem, the poet is emphasizing on the magnitude of social interaction that even if a person gets fame or fortune, he should not become proud of them as these things never always stay with a man. What stays with the man from birth till his departure from this world is the virtuous nature that takes him into the realm of Heaven. One should mix up with the crowd around him but should never lose his individuality. The poet pinpoints the evilness of wealth by referring to its adverse effects on the nature of an individual. He warns his readers to try to stay away from it in order to live a contented life. Towards the end, Kipling stresses on the significance of time that if it slips from man’s hand it will never come back but only if the readers pay attention to his advice realistically then it is not an impossible act for them to surmount the whole world and show the real face of a man to the humanity.

Q 8. Use the following chart to record your statement of the meaning of Poem your observations about the techniques of the poem. Each column deals with one of the poetic techniques.

Meaning Theme
Stanza:Human:Rhyme:Sight (Visual):Similes:
CoupletsTersestQuatrainsQuintetsThe Poet Man/WomanRhythm:Hearing (Aural):Metaphors:
Young/OldAlliteration:Smell (Olfactory):Impliedmetaphors:
SestetsOctaveSon/DaughterNon-human:Consonance:Taste:Other Devices:
Strophes:AnimalsAssonance:Touch (Tactile): 
 Domestic             Onomatopoeia       

The poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling is a simple, straightforward poem and has a scholastic approach towards life. It represents a strophic structure as every stanza comprises of 8 lines.
The poet himself is the speaker of the poem who is giving advice not only to his son but to the whole mankind about how to live a successful life.
 The poet skillfully used one of the famous literary techniques of repetition. This repetition put emphasis on a list of qualities that a person should hold to become a true man in a real sense and justify the essence of this very title.

Throughout the poem, the poet used the word “You”, as he is directly talking to the reader. This usage of “You” also shows the importance of mankind in the eyes of the poet. This makes the poem seem more singular as there is a specific subject versus an audience of readers. The element of “If” is representing the conditions that help a man to be a winner or a virtuous person to lead a successful life.
A rhetorical device that Kipling uses in this poem is that known as personification Element of 

Personification can easily be seen throughout the poem at different occasions such as when discussing triumph and disaster as two beings who are referred to as “impostors,” dreams as “masters” who can control one’s life, will as a person who encourages us never to give up. Thus, Kipling gives these things human-like characteristics.

The overall poem is written as an iambic pentameter, which gives the poem a certain effect. Iambic pentameters contain ten syllables per line with each line having an unstressed syllable and then a stressed syllable. For example, “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtues.”
Metaphors hold an important place in the structure of the poem and conveying the message to the readers with hidden implications. Some of the examples of metaphor are as follows:

  • Unforgiving minutes refer to the time that never waits for a man, it is just like a race where every second is of utmost importance.
  • Worn out tools refer to the feeling of total exhaustion that can force someone to give up.
  • Make one heap of all your winnings is compared to a pile of money won at the gambling tables.
  • Walk with Kings means to interact and have a social connection with the elite, important or influential people of the society.
  • Talks with crowd mean the element of mixing up with the common man or with people belonging to different walks of life.

Symbolic representation is one of the significant elements of Kipling’s poetry. Some of the symbols used in the poem are as follows:

  • Knaves represent scoundrels, liars, and fake persons.
  • Crowds simply mean the common folk.
  • Kings represent the elite class of the society.
  • Common touch represents modesty.

Alliteration is also there in the poem such as:

  • 5th line: wait and waiting,
  • 7th line hated and hating,
  • 8th line: too and talk,
  • 9th line: make and master,
  • 14th line: twisted and trap,  
  • 24th line: will and which,
  • 26th line: walk and with,
  • 30th line: sixty and seconds,
  • 31st line: earth and everything.

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