IMAGES OF Euro-American Imperialism

The White Man's Burden, 
Rudyard Kipling (1899)
THE UNITED STATES AND THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS

Take up the White man's burden --
  Send forth the best ye breed --
Go bind your sons to exile
  To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness
  On fluttered folk and wild --
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
  Half devil and half child.

Take up the White Man's burden --
  In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
  And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
  An hundred times mad plain.
To seek another's profit,
  And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden --
  The savage wars of peace --
Fill full the mouth of Famine
  And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
  The end for others sought,
Watch Sloth and heathen Folly
  Bring all your hope to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden --
  No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper --
  The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
  The roads ye shall not tread,
Go make them with your living,
  And mark them with your dead!

Take up the White man's burden --
  And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
  The hate of those ye guard --
The cry of hosts ye humour
  (Ah, slowly!) toward the light: --
"Why brought ye us from bondage,
  "Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden --
  Ye dare not stoop to less --
Nor call too loud on freedom
  To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
  By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
  Shall weigh your Gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden --
  Have done with childish days --
The lightly proffered laurel,
  The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
  Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
  The judgment of your peers!

 

 
Discussion Questions
  1. How would you characterize the attitude in Kipling's poem? Is it in anyway ironic?
  2. How are peoples of the non-Western world described?
  3. Compare the three cartoons on the right with the poem? How do they put in perspective or challenge the poem?
  4. What about the images below? Do they enlarge our understanding in any way?

 

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding