Composition

The literary genre of poetry is defined by both outer and inner structure. Poems are usually organised in verses and stanzas and their aim is to convey a certain state of the poet or a certain image in a lyrical, harmonious way. This is why it is important to look at both outer composition and inner composition when dealing with a poem such as “The Brown Man’s Burden” by Henry Du Pré Labouchère.

Outer composition

“The Brown Man’s Burden” is an eight-stanza poem. Each of the stanzas is made of eight lines or verses, also known as octaves. Octaves are usually typical of sonnets and flow in an iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme abba-abba. Labouchère’s poem, however, does not follows this scheme. The rhymes are broken and only some alternate lines rhyme:

“Pile on the brown man's burden
To gratify your greed;
Go, clear away the "niggers"
Who progress would impede;”
(ll. 1- 4)

If you look at the stanzas, you will observe they have rather short lines, suggesting a fast rhythm. Each of the stanzas is an appeal, advising ‘the white man’ on how to interact with ‘the brown man’.  Notice that the first seven stanzas start with the same verse “Pile on the brown man's burden”.

In stanza 1, ‘the white man’ is advised to brutally kill brown men (colonised people) as they cannot actually be tamed.

In stanza 2, the speaker recommends a combination of violence and philosophic...

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