A Song of the White Men

Poem By Rudyard Kipling

1899

Now, this is the cup the White Men drink
When they go to right a wrong,
And that is the cup of the old world's hate-
Cruel and strained and strong.
We have drunk that cup- and a bitter, bitter cup-
And tossed the dregs away.
But well for the world when the White Men drink
To the dawn of the White Man's day!


Now, this is the road that the White Men tread
When they go to clean a land-
Iron underfoot and levin overhead
And the deep on either hand.
We have trod that road- and a wet and windy road-
Our chosen star for guide.
Oh, well for the world when the White Men tread
Their highway side by side!


Now, this is the faith that the White Men hold-
When they build their homes afar-
'Freedom for ourselves and freedom for our sons
And, failing freedom, War.'
We have proved our faith- bear witness to our faith,
Dear souls of freemen slain!
Oh, well for the world when the White Men join
To prove their faith again!

Comments about A Song of the White Men

The poem is marred by white racism, which can only be partly explained by the times in which Kipling lived. There is an assumption that White Men are superior to other races in every way-what they drink, the roads they tread, the faith they share. I cannot agree with Kipling's assertions here.
I know that Rudyard Kipling is famous-to-notorious for his phrase, the white man's burden and for his jingoism; but he remains memorable for me for his mystical Indian story. 'Miracle of Puran Bhagat', the novel, 'Kim' and the remarkable poem, 'Recessional', which 'The Times' of London published in its edit page on Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee,1897. I like to consider Kipling as pleading for cultural and humane values, addressing all humans regardless of skin pigmentation, ethnic, national or credal variations. AM
This poem is absolutely disgusting. It should not have been posted.
Kipling is controversial; especially today with our incurable lapsing into self-flogging. Today, western (Caucasian) peoples are deemed guilty of practically every wrong that ever occurred in Human History. And Kipling's writings are pretty much seen as an apology for British imperialism - and western imperialism at large. Kipling espoused the ideas of his own period. There was nothing wrong about imperialism in Victorian England. Imperialism was seen as a civilization mission until the mid XXth century. Today it gets more and more demonized. And the ex-colonized peoples seen as innocent victims of the white man's greed and lust for power. Maybe the truth lies in the middle of it all. A happy medium. As a matter of fact, Indian people are quite happy to resort to English language when they communicate with fellow-nationals who speak a totally different language. There are fifty-six different languages in India; not counting the dialects (correct me if I'm wrong) . Gandhi & Nehru knew that keeping the English-speaking heritage would be an invaluable asset for the unity of India. Things just cannot be all evil or all good. They have their merits and their shortcomings.
trod that road.....failing freedom, War. Succinct reminder from a sage.


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