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Monday, November 10, 2008

Apropos of Midnight

posted by on November 10 at 0:51 AM

This, by Kipling, recently floored me:

Take up the White Man’s burden—
Ye dare not stoop to less—
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your Gods and you.

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also, a little walt whitman:

Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,

'Twould not be you, Niagara - nor you, ye limitless prairies - nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,

Nor you, Yosemite - nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyserloops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,

Nor Oregon's white cones - nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes - nor Mississippi's stream:

This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name - the still small voice vibrating -America's choosing day,

(The heart of it not in the chosen - the act itself the main, the quadrennial choosing,)

The stretch of North and South arous'd - sea-board and inland - Texas to Maine - the Prairie States - Vermont, Virginia, California,

The final ballot-shower from East to West - the paradox and conflict,

The countless snow-flakes falling - (a swordless conflict,

Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's): the peaceful choice of all,

Or good or ill humanity - welcoming the darker odds, the dross:

- Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify - while the heart pants, life glows:

These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,

Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.

Posted by jayme | November 10, 2008 4:20 AM

Of course Kipling was a racist. If you read the The Jungle Book, it's rife with racist themes and ideas (King Louie, of the Apes, is supposed to demonstrate what happens when people of color are in charge of themselves). Some of his books are still very good (taken in the same way that "n*gger" is in Mark Twain- offensive, perhaps, to us, but accurate in context.), but the guy was definitely all about imperialism.

Posted by Mkyorai | November 10, 2008 6:02 AM

excerpt from "On the Pulse of Morning" by Maya Angelou,
Presidential inauguration, January 1993

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River

Posted by 4f...sake | November 10, 2008 6:27 AM

@2, what the fuck are you talking about? King Louie was invented by Disney and doesn't appear in Kipling's book at all.

Posted by Editorial Assistant | November 10, 2008 7:14 AM

We're already here.

We heard Uncle John's band's gonna show up, too.

Posted by PC, Al Green and Talking Heads | November 10, 2008 7:16 AM

I always assumed when he said "white man's burden" he meant "clapping on the one and three."

Posted by flamingbanjo | November 10, 2008 8:13 AM

Ditto to number 4. Yes, Kipling was most certainly a racist and an imperialist - but King Louie was a Disney creation and NOT in Kipling's book.

Posted by dkstar | November 10, 2008 8:50 AM

Same as it ever was.

Posted by Kermit the SLOG Frog | November 10, 2008 8:51 AM

I wanna be a man, mancub
And stroll right into town
And be just like the other men,
I'm tired of monkeying around

So oo-be-doo
I wannabe just like you
I wanna walk like you,
Talk like you,
You see-ee-ee,
An ape like me-ee-ee,
Can learn to be human too!

Posted by kebabs | November 10, 2008 9:26 AM

What the others said: King Louie is Disney, and I've always hated what Disney did to The Jungle Books. To Mary Poppins too.

Posted by Bruce Garrett | November 10, 2008 10:50 AM

@6: Funniest comment I've ever read on Slog? I think so.

And where is Mudede on this post?

Posted by Nick | November 10, 2008 11:55 AM

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