This version is for 21st-century women (and men too)

2 min readApr 12, 2021


Photo by Caroline Veronez on Unsplash

“If” is a poem by English Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, of The Jungle Book fame in 1895. The poem, first published in Rewards and Fairies, ch. ‘Brother Square-Toes,’ is written in the form of paternal advice to his son, John.

As part of the Good Poetry Project, Vineet K Panchhi sent a call out to poetesses around the world who would like to take up the challenge of creating a version of “If” that is gender-neutral or even specifically meant for women, and more appropriate for the modern-day context. Elizabeth Lincoln Otis created a version of this poem, specifically for girls, in 1931. That version is very out of context and difficult to relate to for the modern woman.

In my opinion, much of what Sir Rudyard Kipling wrote applies to both men and women today.

Still, with due respect to the original poet, here is an attempt to create a version that might resonate particularly with women of the 21st century (and maybe men too?).

“If” for the 21st-century girl

If you can know your essence and embody it with grace

When all about you are trying on fad after fad;

If you can aspire for a fine balance in everything

Yet not make an obsession of it;

If you can revel in the extremes of life, on occasion,

Yet know your centre and live from it;

If you can love another as yourself

Yet know, that you only need yourself

To express and experience

The truest, purest, fiercest of love;

If you can remember, that only those can give joy

Who are full to the brim with it,

And yet appreciate, that sometimes

There is pleasure in quietly stepping aside

So that another parched heart may quench its thirst

At the crowded fountain of victory;

If you can rejoice in fame

Yet not make a pursuit out of it,




Amazon #1 best-selling author ("Worldschoolers" and “Buddha Balance”). Thoughts-in-progress and glimpses into my eclectic life: https://linktr.ee/nomadparents