Just another question about the immortal poem :)

The first verse reads as follows:

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...

My question is: why "don't", not "not" like in the first string or in the second verse (If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; // If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim...).

Thank you.

  • 1
    If you [can wait ... ] Or, [being lied about, don't ...] looks grammatical enough for a poem, though it's not something I'd normally use in prose. 'If you can ride a bike or don't drive ...'. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 13 '18 at 8:29
  • 1
    To me, it's not a compound clause like "If [(you can...) or (don't drive...)]". It's a compound predicate (not sure if I use a correct term): you (subj.) --- can [wait and (not) be tired] OR [being lied about, (not) deal in lies]. – Stas Malavin Mar 13 '18 at 9:15
  • 2
    I think 'can' just applies to the first line. "If you... don't deal in lies [when others lie about you]..." – Kate Bunting Mar 13 '18 at 9:24
  • If so, "or" doesn't seem to fit here (If you can... or don't deal). – Stas Malavin Mar 13 '18 at 9:52
  • Because broadly, I admire every word Kipling ever wrote, I hate to say this yet I suspect he slipped up. I suspect he meant "Or, being lied about, not deal in lies, Or, being hated, not give way to hating". I think the man who made a long-lived poem out of "Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin’ up and down" can be excused many things… – Robbie Goodwin Mar 27 '18 at 20:17

... And, when confused, [you] don't question Rudyard's grammar ...

+If+ you insert an implicit [you] in the right places, it might become more agreeable.

  • I agree with the sentiment. Flesh it out a bit more, and it could be a good answer. (Not my down-vote, by the way.) // And when answering, elicit comprehension ... :) – Lawrence Jul 26 '18 at 13:49
  • You probably mean the following explanation: If: (you can wait and not be tired by waiting) + (being lied about, [you] don't deal in lies) + ... And this is probably the same that @Kate meant. I'd appreciate if you elaborate your answer a little bit more. To me, all the following lines first appeared applied to "can": If you can: (wait...) + (...) + (...). Now it's clear, thank you. – Stas Malavin Jul 27 '18 at 4:45

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