The Last Word

By Robbie Lindsay | Posted: Thursday August 24, 2017

As we all know, Mr Hall picks a poem to be the focus for the school year. This year it is the poem, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. Last year it was, Invictus, by William Ernest Henley and the year before that it was, If, by Rudyard Kipling.

All of these are very complex poems and I know that the Rector did not choose these by choice. Of these three, the one that had the most impact on me was, If. It was the poem of 2015 and the first poem of Mr Hall’s tradition. It was also the first poem of my first year in the senior school and one that has never left my mind.
The poem goes like this:

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 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!

To those of you that have never heard it, ponder the message between the lines. For me, this poem speaks about balance - which is what all young men are told to strive for. Are you balanced? Think about how you can best use this to better yourself, because there is no better poem to live by. To the Year 13's that listened to this for the first time two years ago, do not forget it. This is the poem our first year as young men wearing the blazer was focused on, and we are a direct reflection of it’s impact. That poem is just as much a part of us as the one that we are spending our last year here on.