The White Man's Burden


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 mad 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 tawdry 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 cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your Gods 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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Return to the Rudyard Kipling Home Page, or . . . Read the next poem; The White Seal

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.