« If » est un magnifique poème que Rudyard Kipling dédie à son fils John, qui vient d’entrer dans l’adolescence. Il porte une philosophie faite d’honneur et de liberté, et l’on comprend pourquoi le père ne fera pas réformer le fiston quelques années plus tard pour échapper à la Grande Guerre. Malheureusement, l’auteur du Livre de la jungle n’avait pas prévu l’atrocité du conflit, et il sera hanté par la mort de John tout le reste de sa vie… La traduction française d’André Maurois 

suit le texte original en anglais. 

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 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!
« If » de Rudyard Kipling, 1910.