The White Man's Burden

(The United States and the Philippine Islands)

Original Text: 
Rudyard Kipling's Verse: Definitive Edition (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1940): 323-24.
2   Send forth the best ye breed--
3Go bind your sons to exile
4   To serve your captives' need;
5To wait in heavy harness
6   On fluttered folk and wild--
7Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
8   Half devil and half child.
9Take up the White Man's burden--
10   In patience to abide,
11To veil the threat of terror
12   And check the show of pride;
13By open speech and simple,
14   An hundred times made plain,
15To seek another's profit,
16   And work another's gain.
17Take up the White Man's burden--
18   The savage wars of peace--
19Fill full the mouth of Famine
20   And bid the sickness cease;
21And when your goal is nearest
22   The end for others sought,
23Watch Sloth and heathen Folly
24   Bring all your hope to nought.
25Take up the White Man's burden--
26   No tawdry rule of kings,
28   The tale of common things.
30   The roads ye shall not tread,
31Go make them with your living,
32   And mark them with your dead!
33Take up the White Man's burden--
34   And reap his old reward:
35The blame of those ye better,
36   The hate of those ye guard--
37The cry of hosts ye humour
38   (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
39"Why brought ye us from bondage,
41Take up the White Man's burden--
42   Ye dare not stoop to less--
43Nor call too loud on Freedom
44   To cloak your weariness;
45By all ye cry or whisper,
46   By all ye leave or do,
47The silent, sullen peoples
48   Shall weigh your Gods and you.
49Take up the White Man's burden--
50   Have done with childish days--
51The lightly proffered laurel,
52   The easy, ungrudged praise.
53Comes now, to search your manhood
54   Through all the thankless years,
55Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
56   The judgment of your peers!


1] In the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898), the United States and Spain made peace in their conflict over Cuba and the Phillipines, over which the US then gained power and acquired an equal responsibility. Back to Line
27] serf: peasant. Back to Line
29] The Treaty of Paris required the United States to return Cuba, the Phillipines, and Puerto Rico to self-government in ten years (Ralph Durand, A Handbook to the Poetry of Rudyard Kipling [London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914]: 186). Back to Line
40] Alluding the Israelites' yearning for the comforts of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 16.2-3; Durand 187) Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: