I grew up hearing the phrase, "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" used as a compliment, a genuine expression of admiration, fairly self-effacing at the same time.
I have to admit that, while I knew from context that it was meant as praise, I long ago forgot most of the poem it came from, remembering just that Gunga Din was heroic on the battlefield. Hence the admiration.
I was about to use the phrase when I realized that the person I was addressing might be too young to get the reference, so I skipped it, but went back to read the poem. It is (to me) shockingly racist, with lines like
An’ for all ’is dirty ’ide
’E was white, clear white, inside
When ’e went to tend the wounded under fire!
Researching it a bit, it seems the poem is not taught anymore, much like some of Mark Twain’s works in the US.
So, is it still a compliment or have the racist overtones made it obsolete?
Edited to add: The last stanza refers to meeting up with Gunga Din in hell someday. [Again edited to add] I realize that the meeting in hell was a compliment - once again - to Gunga Din. The author calls him, "You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!" In the Bible, the Rich man (in hell) asks to let Lazarus (in heaven) give him water: ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ While the Biblical answer is 'Nope', the author has so much faith in the goodness of Gunga Din that he believes Gunga Din will bring him - and others - water not only on the battlefield, but also in hell. (I think...) Thanks to @Michael.
Sorry, I realize this has some POB aspects to it.