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Analysis of The White Man's Burden by Rudyard Kipling



The Poet and Introduction

I do not think any lover of good literature will dispute my believe that Rudyard Kipling was one of the geniuses in his lifetime. Born in India on the 30th of December, 1865. His love for literature led him to journalism, poetry and short-story writing (he authored the famous book title: The Jungle Book) but to cut the very long profile short, at the ripe age of 70, Joseph Rudyard Kipling kissed his mortal flesh goodnight 18th of January, 1836.

If you're a fervent follower or reader of this blog, you'll recollect when Naijapoets recently analyzed a poem written by poet with Nobel Prize in Literature and Rudyard Kipling is another example on this blog. Jean Paul Sartre had his Nobel Prize in Literature in the year 1964 while Rudyard's Nobel Prize award was in the year 1907.

Colonization, exploitation and civilization are known to share the same link in any historical growth of both developed and developing countries. Colonialists act on the motive of calculated gains from the intended land which on the other hands lead to the further development of such land.

"The White Man's Burden" by Rudyard Kipling mocks the  long practiced heroism by people from Europe and America which they carry out in different ways noted in the poem. Colonialism, Activism, Philanthropism, Missionary, Exploration, Humanitarianism, Rescue Missions.

Structure and Devices

Structurally, the eight stanza poem has irregular rhymes pattern and stanzas. With tone of admonition to arouse a repellant mood, the poet made mockery of so many glorified acts through a second person perspective. Besides, the use of refrain "Take up the white man's burden" seen at the commencement of each stanza, there are other poetic devices as thus: "By all ye cry or whisper/ By all ye leave or do," is an instance of antithesis in the poem, "The savage wars of peace" is an example of oxymoron, "To wait in heavy harness/ On fluttered folk and wild" has alliteration. "And bid the sickness cease" which possesses assonance. Biblical allusion in the poem is "Why brought he us from bondage/ Our loved Egyptian night?"

Paraphrase of the Poem

Take up the white man's burden of sending your sons to rule the land you've colonized. Take up the white man's burden of patiently cajoling people with sweet public speeches that quench their threats of terror towards you. Or take up the white man's burden of discouraging the enjoyable lifestyle of the nobles and the kings but risk your life on deadly adventure to explore new places.

You can take up the white man's burden of giving gifts and financial aids to those affected by the aftermath of revolutionary wars filled with famine only to watch your effort amount to waste by people's laziness and religious fanaticism. You should also take up the white man's burden of being rewarded with blame (like Moses in the Bible) from your rivals and those you worked hard to safe from captivity. Take up the white man's burden of missionary approach where freedom is prayerfully seek knowing that people will always judge you by your gods and personal behavior. Or maybe you should take up the modern white man's burden of sacrificing a whole lot of yourself in the quest for laureates and honorary awards.

If you take this moment to examine, you will realize those white man's burdens give nothing but ingratitude, sorrow, hard wisdom and criticism.
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Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)
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