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Thursday, October 28, 1999

Rudyard Kipling Was A Fool

By Dennis Petroskey

I was walking through Times Square the other night, having just finished reading Paul Larson's piece on where the Rule Breaker portfolio would be if you took away any given stock from its performance. Somehow the hustle and bustle of the city sent my mind careening to that old graduation-time masterpiece, "If."

It's amazing how things you memorize in high school can flit into your head fully intact 25 years later, but that's the wonder of the human brain. As the poem's lines began running through my head, I realized it had a lot to say about Foolish investing, particularly during volatile times. Below is a slightly edited and abbreviated version of Rudyard Kipling's classic.

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 impostors 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 worn-out tools:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of (Foolish fun),
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And... you'll be a (wealthy) man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling


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