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NEW IMPERIALISM BURDEN POEMS
CA Standard
10.4 - Students analyze patterns of global change in the era of New Imperialism in at
least two of the following regions or countries: Africa, Southeast Asia, China, India,
Latin America, and the Philippines.
1. Describe the rise of industrial economies and their link to imperialism and
colonial-ism (e.g., the role played by national security and strategic advantage;
moral issues raised by the search for national hegemony, Social Darwinism, and
the missionary impulse; material issues such as land, resources, and technology).
Overview:
In 1899, British writer Rudyard Kipling was inspired by events during the SpanishAmerican War and comprised the famous poem The White Man’s Burden. In this lesson,
students will read the poem and understand how the sentiments it expressed were
characteristic of pro-imperialist thinking at the time. They will then read a direct
response to Kipling’s poem (also published in 18990 titled The Brown Man’s Burden”
along with reading The Black Man’s Burden and then another pro imperialist poem The
Burden of Profit both published in 1903).
Objectives:
Students will:
1. understand how ethnocentric and social darwinistic attitudes help drive New
Imperialism
2. asses the role literature played in the debate over imperialism
3. identify and evaluate opposing points of view
Student Work:
1. Answer the questions one thru four on each poem. on each poem
2. Write your own poem
Eric Anderson
Pacifica High School 2006-2007
World History
Questions for each poem:
1. Describe what you think the author means by “ ---------, man’s burden”
2. How would you characterize the tone of the poem?
3. To whom do you think the poem is addressed? What do you think the author
hoped to accomplish by publishing the poem?
4. List two or three words or phrases the author uses to describe indigenous peoples.
How do these examples reveal the author’s attitude towards these peoples?
Questions for White Man’s Burden” and Brown Man’s Burden
1. Give examples of how The Brown Man’s Burden is a response to The White
Man’s Burden?
2. What does the author of The Brown Man’s Burden see as the true motivating
force behind imperialism?
3. In The White Man’s Burden each verse begins with “Take up the white man’s
burden?, in The Brown Man’s Burden each verse begins with” Pile on the brown
man’s burden”. What is the significance of this?
Questions for Black Man’s Burden and Burden of Profit
1. How is The Burden of Profit a marketing tool for the construction of the Panama
Canal?
2. In Black Man’s Burden, what is the drive for manipulation of black people?
3. Give examples of how The Black Man’s Burden and The Burden of Profit are
response poems to The White Man’s Burden.
Writing Your own Imperialism Poem
Your poem should be based off of the four poems, The White Man’s Burden, The Brown
Man’s Burden, The Black Man’s Burden and The Burden of Profit. This poem should
either reflect a pro Imperialism point of view or an anti Imperialism point of view.
Guidelines
 Be a minimum of three verses and a maximum of five verses
 Each verse must have the same first line
Wrap Up
Ask the class to what extent attitudes like Kipling’s wer merely a rationalization for
imperialist goals. Have them also consider how such attitudes may have helped nations
to achieve imperialist goals.
Eric Anderson
Pacifica High School 2006-2007
World History