“If” is one of two poems by G. A. Crawford that are recorded in Robert Dickinson’s journal, “Servigliano Calling.”
(With apologies to the late Rudyard Kipling)
IF YOU can make this life worth living,
While in Campo 59, you stay.
By, all the best that’s in you, giving,
Just for a Lira a day.
If you can make yourself contented,
With the little there is to do.
By playing games, you, or others have invented,
Or reading books owned by the lucky few.
IF you can eat, and not get tired by eating,
The same old macaroni, meat and rice.
And tho’ the cooks forget to put salt or meat in,
Still come back and say “How jolly nice”.
If you can enjoy and masticate with relish,
This heavy, yeastless, barley-bread.
Nor from indigestion, have your nose turn reddish,
Or in your tummy have it lie, like lead.
IF you can wait, and not be tired by waiting,
In endless queues for things that you desire.
Or on finding chaps not matey, don’t turn to hating,
Nor loose your temper in thoughtless hasty ire.
If you can cull within you,
The beauty in the common daily strife.
And pour it forth despite what’s happened to you
And weave it strongly in this web of life.
IF you can grasp what vistas lie before us,
Before the “ruddy” war is through.
And go on making life a happy chorus,
Always bright and merry, never very blue.
If you can do all this and more, sir,
When all around conspires to make you glum.
In the end you’re the man who’ll score, sir
And—which is more—you’ll be a sport, By gum!