Rudyard Kipling’s Influence on Political Persuasion through Poetry

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Updated: Sep 06, 2023
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The Power of Eloquent Verses in Politics

A politician who can speak in eloquent verse that captures his viewer’s minds and hearts is far more electable than even the most qualified candidate who cannot speak with the same eloquence. It is simply human nature to be drawn to those with such abilities. Robert Frost and Rudyard Kipling are well renowned worldwide for the beauty with which they wrote and the timelessness of those writings. Beauty is ageless, and because of this, their writings have lived on long since they have left this life.

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“If” and “The Road Not Taken” are two such works. Each of these pieces is a classic piece of modernist writing. Each of these pieces rebels against the past in an effort to send a message that you control your future. That you control your fate; however, where they differ is in the style in which they relay this message.

“If”: A Modernist Piece of Rebellion and Control

“If” shows us that it is a modernist piece not only in its rebellion against the repression of the time but in its rejection of form. “If” is written in iambic pentameter, but with an exception. Unlike perfect iambic pentameter, “If” alternates between ten-syllable lines, which is textbook, and less conventional eleven-syllable lines. Iambic pentameter is the single most recognizable of English meters, and by changing its typical syllable count, Kipling is marking control over it. If Kipling had changed too much about the form, its effect would have been lost, and the reader would not have recognized his rebellion against tradition, his assertion of control over it. However, by changing only the syllable counts, Kipling allows the reader to see the traditionalism of the form and clearly note that Kipling is controlling it, that he is making it his own, that he is controlling.

Control Through Form and Structure in “If”

Kipling exerts control over his form by grouping lines using syllable counts, but this is not the only place he uses grouping to demonstrate control. With the exception of the first line, “If” has an ABABCDCD rhyme scheme. In this rhyme scheme, The pattern is neat and highly cyclical. Combine this rhyme scheme grouping with the syllable count grouping, and you begin to sense a heavy emphasis on pairs. However, the pairs do not stop there. Not only does Kipling’s form emphasize pairs, but his words do as well. The poem is divided into actions and consequences. Take the first line of stanza four, for example. “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,” this line -and this example, like every example- is balanced.


  1. Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Poetry Foundation, Accessed 5 September 2023.

  2. Kipling, Rudyard. “If.” Poetry Foundation,—. Accessed 5 September 2023.

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Rudyard Kipling's Influence on Political Persuasion through Poetry. (2023, Sep 06). Retrieved from