"The Brown Man's Burden"

Much like Lulu Baxter Guy's "The Black Man's Burden," Henry Labouchère's "The Brown Man's Burden" shifts the emphasis of Kipling's notorious poem, offering a view of imperialism from the perspective of those who were most directly affected by the expansionist policies of nations like Britain and the United States. "The Brown Man's Burden" offers an indictment of imperial hypocrisy, with particular emphasis on the violence employed in subjugating countries like the Philippines in the name of freedom.

The Brown Man's Burden

Pile on the brown man's burden
    To gratify your greed;
Go, clear away the "niggers"
    Who progress would impede;
Be very stern, for truly
    'Tis useless to be mild
With new-caught, sullen peoples,
    Half devil and half child.
 
Pile on the brown man's burden;
    And, if ye rouse his hate,
Meet his old-fashioned reasons
    With Maxims up to date.
With shells and dumdum bullets
    A hundred times made plain
The brown man's loss must ever
    Imply the white man's gain.
 
Pile on the brown man's burden,
    compel him to be free;
Let all your manifestoes
    Reek with philanthropy.
And if with heathen folly
    He dares your will dispute,
Then, in the name of freedom,
    Don't hesitate to shoot.
 
Pile on the brown man's burden,
    And if his cry be sore,
That surely need not irk you--
    Ye've driven slaves before.
Seize on his ports and pastures,
    The fields his people tread;
Go make from them your living,
    And mark them with his dead.
 
Pile on the brown man's burden,
    And through the world proclaim
That ye are Freedom's agent--
    There's no more paying game!
And, should your own past history
    Straight in your teeth be thrown,
Retort that independence
    Is good for whites alone.

Source | Henry Labouchère, "The Brown Man's Burden," Truth (London); reprinted in Literary Digest 18, 25 February 1899.
Creator | Henry Labouchère
Item Type | Fiction/Poetry
Cite This document | Henry Labouchère, “"The Brown Man's Burden" ,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed April 16, 2014, http://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/751.