WHITE MAN’S BURDEN

I had long known about the phrase “white man’s burden,” but it wasn’t until just over a year ago that I learned that it originally referred to the ‘benevolent’ American occupation of the Philippines. I cannot come close to explaining how much that affected me.

* * * * *

White Man’s Burden, by R. Kipling (published 1899).

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?”

[*the above political cartoons are taken from the book "Iconography of the New Empire," by Servando D. Halili Jr. (UP Press)]

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen feebles
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Have done with childish days–
The lightly proferred 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.

* * * * *

The US President washes the Filipino 'savage' in the waters of 'civilization.'

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2 responses to “WHITE MAN’S BURDEN

  1. I read the history a while back doing research for enriching Filipino HIstory- what I was taught in my history class that the “White Man’s burden” originally came from Pears Soap Company who used “White Man’s Burden” as a campaign for middle class american to rid themselves of the “filth” that black people had. So reading that the “white man’s burden” originated from Rudyard Kipling’s poem about “savage” filipino’s made me question:
    What is our history besides the glorious revolution, and beautiful landmarks? Why is it that our history never reaches fr enough to get the right story to those who teach students?
    Are we the darkside of American history? –

    Just saying…

    d3scry

  2. British Imperialism at its “finest” and a good example of the mentality of the western world of other cultures. Still evident today, however not as apparent of course.

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