I was reading the "The Brown Man's Burden" by Henry Labouchère.

I was a little confused because the antecedent for "you," seemed to be changing from the White men to the Brown men (Philippine natives) in the poem.

For example, in the first stanza,

Pile on the brown man's burden; And, if ye rouse his hate, Meet his old-fashioned reasons With Maxims up to date.

Here, "you," seems to be referring to the natives who anger "his hate," referring to the White men.

However, in all other parts of the poem, "you," seems to refer to the White men, as in the first stanza that states, "Pile on the brown man's burden To gratify your greed".

Please let me know if I am analyzing this poem correctly.

  • 3
    Why don't you think "you" still refers to white men? If you (white men) rouse the brown man's anger, answer the brown man's old fashioned reasons with your modern Maxims. (A pun on the contemporary gun.) Feb 23 at 6:21
  • Just for that sentence, it says if "you" rouse his hate, you will meet his old fashioned reasons with maxims. Isn't this meaning that if you, the natives, arouse the White men's hate, the natives will receive the fiery guns (maxim can refer to guns) from the White men?
    – CuriousCat
    Feb 23 at 6:24
  • I'm not sure. I guess the "you" here can still refer to white men, but then the natives would have "old-fashioned reasons" and the maxim guns. Does that still make sense?
    – CuriousCat
    Feb 23 at 6:25
  • 1
    No. The brown men's old-fashioned reasons will be met (answered) by the white man's Maxims. Feb 23 at 6:31
  • 1
    I gather clicking the little up-arrow-chevron thing to the left of a comment tosses its writer a bone, but I can't say I've ever had one ;-) Feb 23 at 6:47

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