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December 15, 2007


IF NOT – Kipling’s ‘If’ rewritten to conform with the spirit of the times

by quaesitor

With apologies to those who feel great affection for Kipling’s renowned poem IF, here is a 20th Century parody (which is just as relevant in the 21st) – apparently it first appeared in the New Statesman magazine, but i’ve not been able to discover more either about the poem or the mysterious H A C Evans.

If you can’t trim your sails to suit the weather,
If you can’t take your chance to pass the buck,
If you can’t offer cardboard goods as leather
And then persuade the mugs to buy the muck;
If you can’t work a profitable fiddle
Or cheat the Customs when you’ve been abroad,
If you can’t wangle your returns, and diddle
The Income Tax, yet not be charged with fraud;

If you can’t learn the craft of social climbing
And damn the eyes of those who’re underneath;
If you can’t kid your friend you’re not two-timing,
Then, when it suits you, kick him in the teeth;
If you can’t run a car on public money,
Or have your lunch each day at the Savoy,
You’re going to find that life’s not at all funny,
For, take my tip, you’ll miss the bus, old boy.

H.A.C. Evans

Quote in in The Faber Book of Parodies, ed Simon Brett, Faber 1984 (p232)


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Laura Beck
    Feb 28 2012

    It was on Poetry Please on BBC Radio 4 this week (26 Feb 2012) with extra info about the poet. You can ‘Listen again’ on i player if you spot this and are quick!!!!

  2. Armyn Hennessy
    Mar 5 2012

    He was a Latin schoolmaster, (undoubtedly at a very good one) according to the BBC Radio 4 ‘Poetry Please’ programme 4.3.2012, who also contribued to Punch magazine. Armyn Hennessy


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