Manvotional: The Thousandth Man

by Brett & Kate McKay on January 7, 2012 · 51 comments

in Manvotionals

The Thousandth Man
By Rudyard Kipling

One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it’s worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.

‘Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for ‘ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ‘em go
By your looks or your acts or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him,
The rest of the world don’t matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ‘em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man he’s worth ‘em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong’s your wrong, and his right’s your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men’s sight—
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can’t bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot—and after!

Hat tip to Gilberto C. for this Manvotional

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Neil January 7, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Awesome poem. I’m really going to have to start reading more of Kipling’s work.

2 Abraham January 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm

I agree! This poem is REALLY great!

3 Rich January 7, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Great poem, a great goal to work towards and a great person to be!

4 Seth Baxter January 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Love it! I’m proud to say I have found more than one who will stick closer than a brother.

5 Anon January 8, 2012 at 12:30 am

Ths is a bit gay-ish.

6 Samuel January 8, 2012 at 12:38 am

Brilliant work…oh and “anon” you are a bit lame-ish. Jealous you don’t have any friends this could apply to?

7 Gabe January 8, 2012 at 12:41 am

Anon…. You are the result of this generations ignorance and perverted view, I’m sure you only have negative experiences from things you hear of and read nowadays. But a close brother is something to be very valued, I thank God I was born with one in my family. But everyone needs that friend. I’m going to stop there, but in laymans terms, shut up and grow up.

8 Paul January 8, 2012 at 1:23 am

Keep the Kipling coming

9 Tyler January 8, 2012 at 2:32 am

There’s a reason most old soldiers and Special Operators love his writing. How a man reacts to Kipling tells you a lot about his character.

10 Jesse January 8, 2012 at 3:58 am

An amazing poem! I wrote this down and gave it to my best friend when we graduated high school.

11 Mike January 8, 2012 at 6:18 am

Another great one by kipling


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 imposters 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 wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

12 Mark January 8, 2012 at 6:27 am

My favourite kipling poem is, The Power Of A Dog. I would love to see it on here one day perhaps. Oh and Anon a man’s CHARACTER is more important than his sexuality,In fact for real men it’s Irrelavant if the thousandth man is gay or you are and the thousandth man is straight. You need to grow up perhaps.

13 DaveR January 8, 2012 at 10:22 am

His poetry changed after the death of his son but his early stuff reflects the attitudes and duties of a gentleman of his era. Subject to the restrictions of his age he was quite risque and outspoken. I like his themes.

14 Paul January 8, 2012 at 10:25 am

This poem really struck home with me. What I took from it is that I need to be that thousandth man, rather than trying to find him in someone else.

15 Rich January 8, 2012 at 10:35 am

Funny Paul, that’s the first thing I though too.

16 Jeff January 8, 2012 at 10:53 am

Paul & Rich – I was thinking the exact same thing.

It seems to me you cannot find that person until you yourself can meet those standards in return.

Howevr, I’m not sure it works that way because while I try I wouldn’t say I meet those standards, yet I have been blessed enough to have more than one friend in my life who meet the grade.

Anon – I feel sorry for you. You obviously have gotten nothing out of this site if that’s the comment you make. This site is about breaking those stereotypical, boorish, neanderthal, ignorant type of reactions! Figure it out – you’ll be much happier.

17 Matt January 8, 2012 at 11:13 am

I feel triply fortunate that I have three friends that meet this high bar.

Great poem, great manvotional!

18 Vincent January 8, 2012 at 11:17 am

I have two such friends, and we have a saying among/between us: “No road too long, no night too dark, no load to heavy.” Thank God for the Thousandth Man.

19 Mtuhuru January 8, 2012 at 11:57 am

Its been a while since words moved me this much. How blessed you are if you are/ you’ve found the thousandth man

20 Steve January 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm

anon is right….this is a bit gayish..IF YOU LOOK AT THE POEM LIKE ONE OF THE 999.
And thats the point of the poem. If you look at male freindship as the 999 do; then you are going to feel squeemish about the feelings expressed in this poem. BUT, if you have ever known the TRUE freindship of a true male friend then your spirit will resonate with these words.
Anon, needs to learn, to be guided, to have an epiphany. He will learn; maybe he will learn, hopefully it won’t be on his death bed.


21 Strapping Lad January 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Kipling is the man! An outstanding poem to live by.

22 Al January 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm

It’s sad to think this picture would be considered “gaaaaay, dooooood!” in today’s America.

23 Al January 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I hadn’t read Anon’s comment when I wrote my own. Unfortunately he proved me right.

24 Strapping Lad January 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm

This is not about Anon. He just wants to stir the pot. Lets keep the focus on what really matters.

25 Mattexian January 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Great poem, tho every time Kipling is mentioned, I can’t help but recall the old joke, “Do you like Kipling?” “I don’t know, I’ve never kipled.”

26 Core January 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Nice poem. Be nice if everyone could find an individual like that they could relie on.

27 Ed January 8, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I love Kipling’s work… A great writer, and a great example of a freemason.

28 Victor Quesada January 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Great, now I get to expand my poetry collection. Now, if only someone were to publish a collection of Manly Poetry, I would surely buy that…

29 Mike January 8, 2012 at 6:18 pm

This poem makes me feel slightly envious of these men. I’ve never had anyone to call my thousandth man. Now, after having finished school and being on my own, do I realize the absolute importance of finding men you can trust in your life (ie. FRIENDS).

30 Phillip January 9, 2012 at 12:13 am


There is a great true adventure book which I’m currently reading called Great Heart by Davidson/Rugge. In short, it tells the tale of a 1903 exploration of the Canadian province of Labrador by canoe some 550 miles. This was thought to be the last part of the country to be explored.

In short order one of the three adventurers becomes sick and immoble. The two others make the hard choice to hike out to get help Through heavy snow, wild animals, facing starvation (one man went from 170lbs to 95),frostbite, and all the while they would bolster themselves by reading from the Bible and the poems of Kipling. They promised to save their friend and they commited themseves to it even though the hardships were incredible.

31 Aaron January 9, 2012 at 1:49 am

Wow. Shit.

I’m awed by Kiplings poem and also just realised that I’ve met my thousandth man and haven’t spoken to him in months. Need to call that fella immediately methinks and see how he’s going.

32 Edward January 9, 2012 at 3:43 am

Thankyou for this post. I Remember my dearest friend. More brother then friend. He’s in a rough place, wont talk with his family or his friends. Except to play a card game with me through email. Somedays it gets really. truelly difficult to keep playing, and some times he wont sign on for weeks. And everyone he knew tells me to give up on him. But I can’t. He never gave up on me in my hour of need.

33 Erik January 9, 2012 at 9:52 am

Love this poem, and shared it with a friend.

Hey Brett… topic idea: should we hold our romantic mates (female or male) to this same standard? Or is this a friendship ideal only?

34 Jason Lee January 9, 2012 at 10:09 am

Kipling also wrote a poem about losers who support Anonymous. It goes:

You have a face full of zits
and a heart devoid of soul
Please wash your nasty pits
And quit talking out your .

35 John January 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Kiplings writings are gold. True gems of insight into a time in history when the value of a mans friendship was highly prized. And as with any good writing, stands the test of time throughout the centuries. This poem reminded me to not only cherish my friendships but to nuture those relationships like a prize winning garden.

36 Brad January 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Excellent poem!

Not to take anything away from it, but the friend that sticks closer than a brother that Solomon refers to is Jesus Christ, and I would encourage everyone to develop that friendship with him!

37 Josh January 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Assuming that Kipling is talking about “the” Solomon, Jesus had not even been born yet.

Love the poem though, and Mike, I added yours to my list of readings for my son.

38 don Roberto January 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Brad, I don’t have any authority here beyond the moral authority to which anyone might lay claim, but I found the second part of your comment inappropriate. The first part would be a piece of historical information, of at least passing interest to just about anyone. The second, however, implies that everyone could benefit from a “friendship” with your god, denigrating the beliefs of non-Christians, who feel no benefit would accrue from such a relationship.

It would not have been entirely unreasonable, although perhaps a trifle pushy nevertheless, to have expounded on how you, personally, have benefited from such a relationship, but to assume that the rest of us would so benefit is, well, insupportable. Would you welcome being told you would benefit from a similar “friendship” with Allah or Thor or the Daghdha?

So, to your suggestion, I reply “Thanks, but no thanks.”

39 Brad January 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

True, Solomon was well before Jesus’ time, but was speaking here in a prophecy just like all the Old Testament prophets spoke of the coming Messiah.

don Roberto,
I apologize if I caused offence, but I don’t see how encouraging someone denigrates their beliefs. And expounding on how Christ has changed my life would take up more time than is appropriate for this forum.
If someone told me to embrace Allah or Thor I wouldn’t be offended, but you’re right I would ask for supporting evidence. Again, I’m not sure that you would want me to take the time here to do that.
The Truth is what it is, and isn’t changed by man’s opinion either way.

40 Josh January 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Brad, interesting take, I hadn’t looked at it that way. I will say though that my understanding was Kipling wasn’t very religious (a bigger Kipling fan can correct me on this) so I am not sure if that is what Kipling was getting at. That is not to say that we could not benefit from reading it that way.

41 don Roberto January 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Brad, I’m pretty sure you could figure out how suggesting people have a relationship with your god is somewhat dismissive or disrespectful of their beliefs, but let me suggest just one angle for your consideration.

Unless I misremember, your god claims not merely supremacy, but uniqueness. Unless you’re a Christian henotheist (rarer than hen’s teeth, I suspect), suggesting someone have a relationship with *your* god would require they forgo any relationship they may already have with other deity/ies, no? They would have to deny not only their previous connection and beliefs, but the very *existence* of whatever deity/ies with whom they had had a prior relationship. How can that be anything but denigrating their current relationships? Clearly, you imply that to have a relationship with *your* god is better than what they have. That may be your belief, but just as one may believe one’s wife is better in all ways than that of one’s friend, one does not go trumpeting it to one’s friend.

I didn’t say I was offended, I said your remark was inappropriate, just as any other kind of religious proselytizing is inappropriate here.

I wasn’t asking for “supporting evidence:” religion isn’t about evidence, it’s about faith. John Michael Greer, in his book “A World Full of Gods,” discusses quite effectively why no religion (or “relationship,” for those who prefer the term) has a stronger claim to T/truth than any other, when viewed objectively. Rather than ask for “supporting evidence,” I’m suggesting that you reconsider whether this is the appropriate forum for proselytizing. I don’t do it to you: perhaps you could extend me the same courtesy.

42 Vardhan January 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm

very good poem… gave me the same feeling i had when i first read “if” by him in 7th grade.

43 George January 13, 2012 at 3:17 am

There’s a darker side to this poem. What if you had that “thousandth” man, and he passed?

That happened to me. I’ll never forget my dear friend.

So guys, if you have that thousandth man, treasure him for the treasure he is.

44 stephen January 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm

very good, for those With a son try IF by Kipling

45 Greg January 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Like Stephen, I too lost a friend that was that one thousandth man. If 18 years of serving together, sharing the same dirt, life’s ups and downs, and sharing our lives make me gay, who cares. After his memorial, I was told something that fits well here, “you can drink from my canteen any day”.

46 Ed Merc January 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I never read this before. I’m glad I just did.

I have such a friend. Closer than a brother and truly one in a thousand.

He’s always been there for me when I need support, but also when I need to be taken down a notch. A lost art if you ask me. And am the better man for it.

47 Hunter January 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm

My Mother had three sons, She kept a framed copy of “If” on the wall of the room we shared. It shaped our lives. Along side it was a copy of a “Code for Cowboys” someone had written. I keep a framed postor of the “Code of the West” attached below, in my office where I look at it every day. And yes, I do carry a Colt .45.

48 Curtis January 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I have yet to find that friend

49 Ron Keck January 22, 2012 at 8:34 am

Here’s another offering by Brother Kipling. Wonderful stuff!

The Ballad of East and West

Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)

OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,

When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border side,


And he has lifted the Colonel’s mare that is the Colonel’s pride:

He has lifted her out of the stable-door between the dawn and the day,

And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away.

Then up and spoke the Colonel’s son that led a troop of the Guides:

“Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal hides?”


Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar,

“If ye know the track of the morning-mist, ye know where his pickets are.

At dusk he harries the Abazai—at dawn he is into Bonair,

But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare,

So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly,


By the favor of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai,

But if he be passed the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then,

For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal’s men.

There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,

And ye may hear a breech-bolt snick where never a man is seen.”


The Colonel’s son has taken a horse, and a raw rough dun was he,

With the mouth of a bell and the heart of Hell, and the head of the gallows-tree.

The Colonel’s son to the Fort has won, they bid him stay to eat—

Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at his meat.

He ’s up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly,


Till he was aware of his father’s mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai,

Till he was aware of his father’s mare with Kamal upon her back,

And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack.

He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide.

“Ye shoot like a soldier,” Kamal said. “Show now if ye can ride.”


It ’s up and over the Tongue of Jagai, as blown dust-devils go,

The dun he fled like a stag of ten, but the mare like a barren doe.

The dun he leaned against the bit and slugged his head above,

But the red mare played with the snaffle-bars, as a maiden plays with a glove.

There was rock to the left and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,


And thrice he heard a breech-bolt snick tho’ never a man was seen.

They have ridden the low moon out of the sky, their hoofs drum up the dawn,

The dun he went like a wounded bull, but the mare like a new-roused fawn.

The dun he fell at a water-course—in a woful heap fell he,

And Kamal has turned the red mare back, and pulled the rider free.


He has knocked the pistol out of his hand—small room was there to strive,

“’T was only by favor of mine,” quoth he, “ye rode so long alive:

There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree,

But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee.

If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low,


The little jackals that flee so fast, were feasting all in a row:

If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high,

The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly.”

Lightly answered the Colonel’s son:—“Do good to bird and beast,

But count who come for the broken meats before thou makest a feast.


If there should follow a thousand swords to carry my bones away,

Belike the price of a jackal’s meal were more than a thief could pay.

They will feed their horse on the standing crop, their men on the garnered grain,

The thatch of the byres will serve their fires when all the cattle are slain.

But if thou thinkest the price be fair,—thy brethren wait to sup,


The hound is kin to the jackal-spawn,—howl, dog, and call them up!

And if thou thinkest the price be high, in steer and gear and stack,

Give me my father’s mare again, and I ’ll fight my own way back!”

Kamal has gripped him by the hand and set him upon his feet.

“No talk shall be of dogs,” said he, “when wolf and gray wolf meet.


May I eat dirt if thou hast hurt of me in deed or breath;

What dam of lances brought thee forth to jest at the dawn with Death?”

Lightly answered the Colonel’s son: “I hold by the blood of my clan:

Take up the mare for my father’s gift—by God, she has carried a man!”

The red mare ran to the Colonel’s son, and nuzzled against his breast,


“We be two strong men,” said Kamal then, “but she loveth the younger best.

So she shall go with a lifter’s dower, my turquoise-studded rein,

My broidered saddle and saddle-cloth, and silver stirrups twain.”

The Colonel’s son a pistol drew and held it muzzle-end,

“Ye have taken the one from a foe,” said he; “will ye take the mate from a friend?”


“A gift for a gift,” said Kamal straight; “a limb for the risk of a limb.

Thy father has sent his son to me, I ’ll send my son to him!”

With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain-crest—

He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest.

“Now here is thy master,” Kamal said, “who leads a troop of the Guides,


And thou must ride at his left side as shield on shoulder rides.

Till Death or I cut loose the tie, at camp and board and bed,

Thy life is his—thy fate it is to guard him with thy head.

So thou must eat the White Queen’s meat, and all her foes are thine,

And thou must harry thy father’s hold for the peace of the border-line.


And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power—

Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged in Peshawur.”

They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault,

They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt:

They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod,


On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God.

The Colonel’s son he rides the mare and Kamal’s boy the dun,

And two have come back to Fort Bukloh where there went forth but one.

And when they drew to the Quarter-Guard, full twenty swords flew clear—

There was not a man but carried his feud with the blood of the mountaineer.


“Ha’ done! ha’ done!” said the Colonel’s son. “Put up the steel at your sides!

Last night ye had struck at a Border thief—to-night ’t is a man of the Guides!”

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the two shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,


When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth.

50 Karl February 17, 2013 at 12:31 am

I shared this to my best friend as a sign of how much I treasure him. After he read it, I remember him saying “Thanks” to me and patted my back earnestly. I figured he was touched by the poem.

I am really blessed to have him as my thousandth man.

51 Nemo February 18, 2014 at 1:48 am

I thought I’ve found the person I can consider the thousandth man, but I don’t think I have. I always try so hard to be that man too. I always fall short of the expectations…

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