Setting

The physical setting of the poem “The White Man’s Burden” refers, broadly, to the places that the White Man colonises. It is likely that the setting is inspired by Kipling’s experiences in India, and could also refer to the Philippines, as the poem is reportedly addressed to the US in relation to its (at that time) potential colonisation of the islands.

We are given little detail on the landscape itself; the poem only references the mark that the White Man will leave behind - the ports and roads he helps to build in the colonies:

The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go make them with your living,
And mark them with your dead. (p. 262, ll. 32-35)

The reference to the ports and roads helps the speaker emphasise that the White Man will work hard and make sacrifices in his attempt to bring the advantages of the civilised world to the colonies. Whil...

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