'If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same' the words that stand above the heads of they who are about to enter Wimbledon Centre Court. The words which have been seen by, and affected, the greatest men who have played the game. The words, which whenever we read and recite, send shivers of awe down our spine. Where do these words come from and what do they mean in that context, and others? Read on to find out. Follow its principles, and you will be on the path to excellence, on and/or off the court.
They originate from a poem..
The words come from the pen of one of history's greatest poets, Rudyard Kipling, and is part of what I consider to be such poet's greatest poem - of course the main reason why I am biased towards such is due to its huge relevance to me, and most probably every other fellow human being struggling to go by and perhaps make it in this brutal world of ours. The poem, which was written in the form of a fictional piece of advice to the poet's son (although it was most probably also meant to be for real) is a superlative literary expression of the importance of the virtues of Victorian-era stoicism. The poem is even more inspiring when one takes into consideration the context in which it was written. It was one of an fruitless endeavour, one of immense sacrifice and of course pain (both physical and spiritual). In his posthumously published autobiography, Something of Myself (1937), Kipling said that, in writing the poem, he was inspired by the military actions of Leander Starr Jameson,leader of the failed Jameson Raid against the Transvaal Republic to overthrow the Boer Government of Paul Kruger. Whether or not you are suffering (which really means 'feel like suffering') this poem deserves a read.
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 a 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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