Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Real White Man's Burden

A parody.

     I am indebted to Laurence Vance, who posts regularly at the Lew Rockwell website, for calling attention to the excellent website 'History Matters,' dedicated to providing reliable resources for the study and teaching of history.

     The website includes Rudyard Kipling's well known poem, "The White Man's Burden," which was published in 1899.  I hope you will take a moment to re-read it.

     The website says:

     'In this poem, Kipling urged the U.S. to take up the “burden” of empire, as had Britain and other European nations.  Theodore Roosevelt, soon to become vice-president and then president, copied the poem and sent it to his friend, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, commenting that it was “rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view.”  Not everyone was as favorably impressed.'

     The historical context for Kipling's poem was the recent victory of the United States government in the Spanish-American War.  The U.S. Army's upcoming deadly treatment of the Filipinos was clearly in view, and needed sanctimonious justification.  Kipling provided it.

     In 1902, Ernest Crosby published this parody, which I hope you will enjoy.  As Laurence Vance notes, the parody "reads much better than the original."

     One thing is for sure.  More than a century of experience and hindsight shows that Crosby was much closer to the truth than Kipling.

1 comment:

  1. Crosby's poem was originally published in his book "Swords and Plowshares," which can be downloaded (legally) from Google Books.