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Il sera un homme un jour...He'll be a man one day

Today's column has been recorded for you by my ten-year-old son, Max. Enjoy!

Si

(see)

if


As promised, the inspiring words my friend Martine (meet her here, page 31) read to me, written by Rudyard Kipling in 1895 and translated into the French by André Maurois in 1918 (the English words follow) (Actually, Maurois' offering is a rendition, not a translation, and some prefer his version to the original!). 

Audio for this poem: To hear Max's recording, Download MP3


"Si—"

Si tu peux voir détruit l'ouvrage de ta vie
Et sans dire un seul mot te mettre à rebâtir,
Ou perdre d'un seul coup le gain de cent parties
Sans un geste et sans un soupir ;
Si tu peux être amant sans être fou d'amour,
Si tu peux être fort sans cesser d'être tendre
Et, te sentant haï, sans haïr à ton tour,
Pourtant lutter et te défendre ;

Si tu peux supporter d'entendre tes paroles
Travesties par des gueux pour exciter des sots,
Et d'entendre mentir sur toi leurs bouches folles
Sans mentir toi-même d'un seul mot ;

Si tu peux rester digne en étant populaire,
Si tu peux rester peuple en conseillant les rois
Et si tu peux aimer tous tes amis en frère
Sans qu'aucun d'eux soit tout pour toi ;

Si tu sais méditer, observer et connaître
Sans jamais devenir sceptique ou destructeur,
Rêver, mais sans laisser le rêve être ton maître,
Penser sans n'être qu'un penseur ;

Si tu peux être dur sans jamais être en rage,
Si tu peux être brave et jamais imprudent,
Si tu sais être bon, si tu sais être sage
Sans être moral ni pédant ;

Si tu peux rencontrer Triomphe après Défaite
Et recevoir ces deux menteurs d'un même front,
Si tu peux conserver ton courage et ta tête
Quand tous les autres les perdront,

Alors les Rois, les Dieux, la Chance et la Victoire
Seront à tout jamais tes esclaves soumis
Et, ce qui vaut bien mieux que les Rois et la Gloire,
Tu seras un homme, mon fils.

(traduction d' André Maurois)

"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 imposters 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 wornout 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!

                                       —Rudyard Kipling

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French, France, armed forces, uniform, camouflage, military, ceremony www.french-word-a-day.com (c) Kristin Espinasse
Our son, in a French military ceremony. Read about Max's recensement militaire, in this story from 2011. 

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