In 3rd grade, my ambitious grandfather presented me a printed copy of it and the promise of a crisp $100 bill if I could memorize it.
(I didn't, but the folded copy still sits in my pink leather The New Adventure Bible circa the 90's bay bay.)
In 7th grade, Mrs. Hargrove assigned recitation of it for a grade.
(Apparantly, dangle an "A" over my head and I'd do anything. This time I memorization happened.)
And now, in honor of this weekend being the last of one of my favorite televised events, and in honor of Sharapova's rockin' white Nike dresses, I give you:
My favorite poem ever.
Because over the Centre Court players' entrance gates at the All England Club is scribed, "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same." Mrs. Hargrove dropped that fact on my junior high Trinity class and I've never forgotten, though Federer and Nadal reminded me in 2008 with their hot accents in a Wimbledon commerical.
'If--'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 one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath 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!"
My current Most Favorite Female Human Breathing at Wimbledon. via
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!
- Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936