Kipling: The White Man’s Burden

The White Man’s Burden

Read the poem at the Kipling Society: The White Man’s Burden. It was published in 1899 in the February, 1899 issue of McClure’s Magazine.

Vocabulary for the poem: Quizlet has explanations for words in the poem and pronunciation.


In February 1899, British novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem entitled “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands.” In this poem, Kipling urged the U.S. to take up the “burden” of empire, as had Britain and other European nations…The racialized notion of the “White Man’s burden” became a euphemism for imperialism, and many anti-imperialists couched their opposition in reaction to the phrase (From History Matters. The US survey course on the web).

How do you react to this poem? What does ‘the white man’s burden’ mean today?

Compare the story of Rikki.Tikki-Tavi with the poem The White Man’s Burden and think about how they make you feel? What images do these texts carry?


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