“The White Man’s Burden”

“The White Man’s 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 captive’s 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 hopes to nought.

red stop signage under clear blue sky
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Take up the White Man’s burden—–
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper—
The tail 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.

two men in military clothing with guns
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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.

praying man looking up
Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

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 judgement of your peers.


Thought Questions
1. Why do you think Rudyard Kipling would write this kind of poem?

2. What do you think “the White Man’s burden” is?

3. Who complained about being brought out of Egypt, and what relation do you think that has to this poem?

4. What happens if we don’t take up “the White Man’s burden” according to the last stanza?

5. Why are your Gods and you being judged and who is judging you?

6. What is being marked with your dead in stanza 4?

7. Why are these people called, “half devil and half child”?

8. Why should we take up this burden?


Do you know who Rudyard Kipling is?  Remember the Disney movie, “The Jungle Book.” It was about a little boy in India who was raised by animals.  Rudyard Kipling wrote it.  He was an Englishman who lived in India when India was under English rule.  Perhaps understanding who he was will help you understand the poem better.  Have you ever thought about the burden he talked about?  I was called when I was young.  I took it up, but not for the reasons he suggests.  How many people truly care enough to take the burden up? Can you do anything to change the world and make it a better place?  How much of a difference can one person make?  My dad used to say to me that I wanted to save the world, but I was only one person. My response to him was, “I can’t save the world, but I can help one person at a time.”  I was encouraged to go overseas and take up the burden, but do we need to leave where we are to take up the burden?  This burden is everywhere.

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