Treasuring Poetry – If by Rudyard Kipling and The Listeners by Walter de la Mare

This month I am featuring my own favourite poems and a poem and picture from my forthcoming poetry book, Behind Closed Doors. I hadn’t intended to feature my own work this month, but sometimes life happens and so I am making the best of it.

If by Rudyard Kipling

I love the poem If by Rudyard Kipling because it is so inspiring and uplifting. The objective of the poem was to give his son advice and instruction on how to live a happy and successful life. I relate strongly to this advice possibly because I have two sons.

My favourite lines are as follows:

“If you can bear to hear the truth you have 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.”

The first two lines above warn that his son must learn to endure his own words twisted by dishonest and harmful people in order to serve their own agendas. The second two lines explain the importance of being able to cope with failure and pick yourself up and carry on, even if what you fail at has been your life’s work.

Both of these situations are ones that everyone comes across in life – people who are willing to walk on you in order to serve their own purposes and failure. How we deal with the resulting disillusionment and disappointment has a huge bearing on our lives going forward.

I like to re-read this poem as a reminder to myself to stay strong and on my chosen path in life.

You can listen to my recital of this poem here:

The Listener by Walter de la Mare

In summary, this poem is about a traveler who comes to a house on a moonlit night and knocks on the door. He demands that the door be opened but he receives no answer.

We discover that the traveler has made a promise to return to the occupants of the house, but he has been prevented from doing so until the current time. It is too late and the occupants are gone. He clearly feels some guilt because he cries “Tell them I came, and no one answered, That I kept my word…”

I love this poem because of its supernatural undertone. There is a mystery that runs through the poem and you feel the whisper of ghosts in the imagined echoes of the listener’s words.

You can listen to my recital of this poem here:

Which of these two poems do you like best?

This is a poem from my poetry book, Open a new door.

The Thunderstorm

A deluge of rain tumbles from the sky

like a bucket turned upside down

the beggars impervious to its ferocity

faces impassive, no fear or frown.


Young boys stand on the roadside

eyes smoldering with hunger’s pain

need forcing them to continue standing

despite the lightening and drenching rain.


One holds a bedraggled cardboard sign

the other a tattered polystyrene cup

each hoping a passerby will pause

and give something to eat or sup.


A young mother stands shivering

an old umbrella sheltering her child

his eyes huge and frightened

he’s never laughed or even smiled.


In the middle of an intersection

an old man stands bent and alone

his head bowed in supplication to the torrent

he doesn’t complain, sigh or moan.


It’s rare to see the elderly on the street

poverty means many don’t live that long

my heart fills with a wrenching pain

for this anguished society to which I belong.


At the traffic light outside my offices there are a collection of beggars and window washers. One old man stands in the middle of the intersection. It is hard to extend any aid to him as it is not a good place to slow down. This motely crew is there every day, come rain or shine.

I have a new poetry collection coming out soon. Here is the cover, designed by the amazing Teagan Riordain Geneviene

About Robbie Cheadle


Robbie Cheadle is a children’s author and poet.

The Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie writes a monthly series for called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle



Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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51 Comments on “Treasuring Poetry – If by Rudyard Kipling and The Listeners by Walter de la Mare”

  1. Hi Robbie. I love your reinterpretation of the old nursery rhyme. Climate change/global warming is such an important issue and your poem does a wonderful job of highlighting its vital importance. I am a lover of “The Listeners” and often return to it. Its rightly been much anthologised and I have it in my braille edition of “The New Oxford Book of English Verse”, edited by Dame Helen Gardner. Its is one of those poems which can be read purely for enjoyment (for its musicality), but also for its deeper meaning as you explain in your post. Kevin

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Kevin, I am really pleased you liked my twisted nursery rhyme and the climate change inflection. I am delighted that you are a fellow The Listeners lover. I can listen to that poem over and over again and I love it more every time.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I cannot choose between those poems, Robbie. I love them both! If I was forced to, it would be ‘If’ for the life lessons it gives us…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. marianbeaman says:

    My mother had Kipling’s adaptation of the poem you charmingly read: Framed on the wall were the words to his “If, for Girls.” I can’t find the words to the one on Mum’s wall, but here is another adaptation:

    I like the cover of your new poetry collection. It looks both mysterious and inviting! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Marian, thank you for your kind comment about the cover, Teagan did a wonderful job. I didn’t know there was an If for girls. That is really interesting and I’m going to follow this link and see what its all about.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    Today, I’m over at writing to be read with a slightly different post for Treasuring Poetry. I have shared two of my own favourite poems, If by Rudyard Kipling and The Listeners by Walter de la Mare. I’ve also given you a sneak peak into my forthcoming poetry book.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. edwardky2 says:

    Reblogged this on Ed;s Site..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary Jo Malo says:

    I can’t choose either! The wisdom of Kipling vs. the palpable haunting of the de la Mare. Kudos on your own book of poetry, Teagan’s intriguing cover, and your climate scenario cake art.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Darlene says:

    You are such a great reader of poetry, Robbie. If is such a fabulous poem for all ages and genders. Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. balroop2013 says:

    If has been my all time favorite Robbie. It adorned my table at school and was always read in the classes I taught… it’s universal appeal can never wane. Nice to hear it is your favorite too.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. beetleypete says:

    I have to choose, ‘If’, and I love the cake! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. You and Teagan are two really multitalented artists.Intriguing the cover, and also the cake with this funny fondant art. Waiting on your new poetry book, Robbie! I am sure a great read! xx Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Wonderfu reading and share, Robbie! Teasgan’s book cover for your upcoming colleciton looks great!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Carla says:

    I didn’t think I had heard The Listener before, but when I listened to your recitation, I did remember it. I think I like them both equally as they are different from one another. Good luck your new book.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I much prefer “The Listener” because it uses concrete imagery and tells a story that can be interpreted in multiple ways. “If” is a little preachy for my taste.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You have a lovely reading voice, Robbie. I liked “The Listener.” Congratulations on the upcoming new release of your poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. TanGental says:

    Well, I’m a sucker for a reinterpretation so well done Robbie. As for choosing it has to be If. Favourite couplet ‘If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run…’ that’s a good enough life philosophy for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Geoff, you are very good at reinterpretations. I like those lines too. They are great ones to aim to imitate 👍🏻.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. memadtwo says:

    I too like the mystery of the Listener. The words of If have been twisted in too many of the ways Kipling warns against. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jim Borden says:

    If is one of my favorite poems as well. I was not familiar with The Listeners. I liked the imagery, although I have to admit I don’t quite get it…

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I had to re-read If and found myself horribly wanting. Each item, I failed! How is anyone as strong as he laid out?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Love hearing your readings. And even though I really enjoy Kipling, I have to say I liked the other poem better. You have introduced me to something new, thank you. Oh, and how wonderful for you to share an extract from your forthcoming book. Thank you for the smiles!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Two lovely poems Robbie. If I was to choose one it would be If…but beautifully read.. congratulations on the new collection…Terrific cover by Teagan and looking forward to showcasing the collection when available…hugsx

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Hi Sally, I am really glad you enjoyed these readings. I am enjoying reading poetry aloud. I am looking forward to this book coming out soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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