Rhyme and rhythm

The poem “The White Man’s Burden” is written with a traditional rhyme and rhythm scheme. The rhythm and rhyme schemes are followed very strictly throughout the poem, which emphasises the speaker’s message that the White Man should never stray from the path of colonialism despite the many challenges it brings.

The rhythm of the poem is commonly used in hymns and is called iambic – every second syllable is stressed. Kipling is said to have drawn inspiration from hymns or songs when he wrote poems, trying to match the words he wrote with the rhythm of the songs.

In the poem we also notice many examples of alliteration (the use of the same letter at the beginning of closely connected words), such as “heavy harness” (p. 262, l. 5), “fluttered folk (p. 263, l. 6) and “serf and sweeper  (p. 262, l. 30). Alliteration al...

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