The Brown Man's Burden


This study guide will help you analyse the poem “The Brown Man’s Burden” by Henry Du Pré Labouchère.  We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on composition, characters and narrator, language and style, rhythm and rhyme, imagery and metaphors, theme and message.

Presentation of the poem

Title: “The Brown Man’s Burden”
Author: Henry Du Pré Labouchère
Published in: Truth (a London magazine)
Date of Publication: 1899
Genre: Poem

Henry Du Pré Labouchère (1831-1912) was a British author and publisher. He is also known for his career as a politician, serving both as a member of the Parliament and as a diplomat.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

The mode of expression

“The Brown Man’s Burden” is an appeal, a direct address to ‘the white man’. It can be read like a hymn or an exhortation. The narrator addresses ‘the white man’ and advises him to “pile on the brown’s man burden” (l. 1), listing all the actions he should take in order to achieve that.

However, this appeal is a fake, ironical one. The poet only uses this form of appeal to imitate the one of the poem he is criticising: “The White man’s Burden” by Rudyard Kipling. Labouchère does not, of course, want the colonial powers to act like that. On the contrary he is against their actions.

The sentence structure

The sentences are short and they are included in long phrases, listing various actions of ‘the white man’. Phrases usually spread over half or a whole stanza. The sentences are separated by commas or break lines in a phrase:

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The Brown Man's Burden

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