My favorite poem.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Oct 21, 2011
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If, by Rudyard Kipling.

This hung on the wall of Marpa House when I was younger. It’s since disappeared. It was, apparently, a gift from Lady Pybus, mother of Lady Diana, wife of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I took the time to stop and read it nearly everyday—just as I always stopped and bowed to the Indian in front of the MFA in Boston.

Here ’tis. May it be of benefit:

Three Buddhist Tips for how to Live Life:


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


23 Responses to “My favorite poem.”

  1. Jules says:

    Just beautiful!

  2. BellaWatts says:

    loved it:)

  3. drbinder says:

    sniff sniff…

  4. elephantjournal says:


  5. Ben_Ralston says:

    Wuaw. Read it before but didn't have the same impact as it does today. I think I'll make a recording of this for my son when he grows up.

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  10. emilyalp says:

    Really needed this, right now … and as you suggest, repeated regularly.

  11. l. divine says:

    i memorized this poem when in elementary school for a speech competition and forgot all about until now. thank you so much for the reminder 🙂

  12. Vicky need him says:

    Humbling. Will I ever be worthy ? Can i ever reach the goals? I vow to leep trying until i exist no more .

  13. A Reader says:

    Love Kipling's work. I remember reading The Jungle Book when I was a 9 (…all part of being a good Cub Scout).
    There's a line in it, "Who will speak for this child?" I now realise how reading his work back then shaped who I am today.

    Thanks for the poem. I read it putting a little ticks on areas in life where I can express more of my potential.
    Oh, and it inspired a great gift idea of what to give my brother (and his young son) for fathers day.


  14. Kandy Hyde says:

    My father who would be 101 (made it to 91) received a framed copy of this poem from his father as a 'guide to living' when he was a child. It was his favorite poem as well and he strove continually to live it. I saw the poem hanging in our home every day until I left for college and read it frequently. I had a poster of it that I continued to love…and my Dad gave it to me when he was 80 years young or so….and I have it to this day in my home and in my heart. My perception of the words has of course changed and grown with age. Powerful words to live by – glad you shared it. And for those of you thinking of sharing it with your children….it is a powerful gift.

  15. Linda V. Lewis says:

    Waylon's mom here. As a school marm I always had the kids middle school age memorize it. It's very inspiring, even if one of the longest sentences in the English language, and, these days, not so gender friendly!

  16. claire says:

    Would be nice if it included the female gender – or "you'll be a human being my child"

  17. karenleemacg says:

    hey, mine too (favorite poem)

  18. Craig S says:

    About a week ago a tiny book bound in leather showed up amid a pile of papers that I recently salvaged from my mom's house. It was this poem, published in 1924 as part of the Kipling's Verses Miniature Series. As soon as I laid my eyes on it I knew it was something special. I set it aside and decided that I would seek a quiet moment to read it, so that I could fully appreciate my discovery. That moment occurred a couple of days ago, and verified what my heart knew to be true from the second I stumbled on it. Seeing your heartfelt experience of it (that you published on Elephant Journal in Oct 2011) show up in my facebook newsfeed today is the icing on the cake. Like all auspicious coincidences, this serves as a reminder that if we are awake and attentive, jewels will reveal themselves to us when we least expect them.

  19. This is my favorite poem too. Someone very dear to me shared it with me, thanks for the mirror! 😉

  20. Get on YouTube and search for Dennis Hopper reciting ‘If’ on the Johnny Cash Show – stunning.

  21. Robert Lyons says:

    Replacement possibility for the disappeared If poem. Details in PM sent to your personal FB page. Thanks, Waylon. One of my favorites, too.

  22. Leah Avenmarg says:

    I share this with my 5th graders as a guided reading and encourage them to read it again in a few years as they mature. What a beautiful poem.

  23. Charlyn Heniford says:

    love it. One of my favorites is also entitled “If”……Written by Will Noris. If your lips would keep from slips, five things observe with care: Of whom you speak, to whom you speak, and how, and when, and where.”