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Kipling was misunderstood

Kipling wrote this poem called "The white mans' burden"
It seems to me that Kipling wasn't entirely wrong in his sentiments. The opposition is the white male Anglo saxon society, and all other races and societies. It was written at about exactly the same time that America embarked on Imperialist actions in the Philipines following the Spanish American war.

The responsibility it lays on the "white man is to build up third world, economically backward countries.

I would like to open a dialog about this, because this thinking is deeply seated in modern U. S. military philosophy.

Given that we as a wealth nation must help persons in need in places like Southern Asia today as well as others. How far off is Kipling?

The Poem

The White Mans' Burden

By Rudyard Kipling

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 made 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 iron 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 will or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent sullen peoples
Shall weigh your God 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.

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Kipling was an imperialist 07.Jan.2005 15:56


This poem is about the "white man's burden" to fulfill the imperialist mission to bring "civilization" to the barbarians of the British colonies. There are plenty of biographical records that when he wrote this poem, Kipling was indeed becoming disillusioned with his country's sacred mission to bring civility to the world, but he still believed very deeply in the imperialist mission. Some say that Kipling was the most powerful British imperialist whose pen was as mighty as the swords and guns wielded to subdue the "backwards" indigenous populations they attempted to subjugate. Kipling loved Indian culture, but he never believed that Indians were as human as Europeans. He was an imperialist racist who defended and at best apologized for the British empire's rise and immenent fall. This poem was part of a dawning realization that the British empire was inevitably doomed. His own son was killed in imperialist warfare.

kipling was not a racist 08.Jan.2005 10:01


I am British and one of 15 million British working class who moved away from the UK due to a repressive class-ridden society. The same as 100 and more years ago - except I am lucky, I did not have to fight and kill anyone to get something out of life, but in those days this was a likely prospect. Sorry, the issue is class not race. Kipling knew this perfectly well. You Americans should ask Eminem.