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Theme Of The Poem

The theme of the poem relates to the general idea or ideas running throughout the poem.  A poem may have one or more themes depending on the subject of the poem the persona deals with and the experiences and feelings the persona undergoes. In “IF” the persona advises the son to look at and understand the positive and negative aspects of life, and to choose the right virtues to ensure one becomes a good person with a positive mind. There are several themes in the poem “IF”. The themes are:

Lesson on life 
The theme of the poem is lesson on life. Life is a journey that is full of uncertainties. It is best that one is prepared to face the challenges in life. The persona advises his son to look at life critically and not take everything at face value. He has to distinguish between good and bad. There are important things that the persona wants his son to understand about the nature of life. The persona’s advice is a lesson on life, and how best to handle situations by upholding good principles and virtues.

Making important decisions in life

The poem deals with making important decisions in life. Decision making is an important aspect in life. Every one faces a situation in which he or she has to make a very important decision that would affect his next course of action. In the poem, the persona advises the son to make the right decisions in life by weighing the pros and cons.

The realities in life
The persona explains that life is not a bed of roses. As such, it is important to face the realities of life. One has to go through the ups and downs of life. There are many obstacles that one has to overcome especially as a lone or solo traveller in the journey of life. One can be distracted by many things. This is one of the themes in the poem.  The persona’s advice shows that one has to understand the realities of life and act accordingly. This is the reality in life. There are instances in life when one has to make a decision from the number of possibilities or alternatives, based on one’s wisdom.  

Facing challenges in life

One of the themes of the poem also relates to facing challenges in life. There are many challenges in life. The poem shows that the persona’s explains what is in store for his son in life. He wishes his son to equip himself with good qualities and virtues to face the challenges in life. He wishes for his son to be fair-minded, positive-minded and be optimistic in facing the challenges in life.  Risk-taking is part of facing challenges in life. There are many uncertainties in life as indicated by the persona. Being optimistic helps one face the challenges in life.

Understanding oneself
The poem also highlights the theme of knowing oneself. It shows that the persona wishes for the son to understand himself better. He wants his son to know about his strengths and weaknesses, so that he is able to handle any situations. The persona advises the son to know that there are elements within a person that can destroy a person. These are the negative qualities that a person possesses such as day-dreaming, being selfish, evil-minded or disoriented. It is best that one understands oneself to triumph in life.

The poem highlights the theme of forward-looking. The persona wishes for the son to be forward-looking. It is important to have a meaningful life in future as a person with the right set of mind, personality and above all, good virtues.

Being positive-minded
Being positive-minded is also a theme in the poem. The persona wants his son to be positive-minded. The persona views life with optimism and wishes for his son to be successful in life by being positive and picking up values and qualities that make him become a good person. The theme relates to being positive in life.

Modesty or having the virtues of being humble is another theme in the poem. Modesty relates to learning to be humble and to show respect. The persona advises the son to be moderate in life. Modesty also relates to having a balanced-life and not be egoistic.

Good versus evil

The theme of good versus evil is throughout the poem. In the final stanza, there is triumph when goodness overcomes evil or bad qualities that a person possesses.  


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