Thursday, February 17, 2011

Poem Analysis/ Strange Are The Ways Of Men

Bismarckian Alliance System/Congress of Berlin:

The Bismarckian System was a system of alliances created and put into action by Otto von Bismarck. It was created to befriend all of the major powers of Europe while betraying the alliances for German interest. The first incidence of the Berlin Congress, which was created in order for Europe to recognize Germany as a nation, was in 1878. In order to assure themselves across the Mediterranean, they tried to create a pro-Russian Bulgaria. Britain and Austria were afraid of the growth of Europe, and found it as a declaration of war. Bismarck didn’t want his new Empire to crumble, so he took a chance to become the peace mediator between the Russians, Austrians, and British at the Berlin Congress. Germany had three goals: to pacify Austria and Britain and appear as a national peacemaker, to stop Russia from gaining too much power, for they could threaten the new German Empire, and create closer ties between Germany and Austria. Bismarck’s goals were successful; the peace between world powers were maintained. The German Empire gained respect and legitimacy, and the peace terms that were agreed on hindered the Russians, and pleased the Austrians. Germany started to gain power through peaceful means. The new, pro-Austrian peace terms that were agreed upon caused the rift between Germany and Austria to become significantly smaller, and isolated the Russians, which lead to a military alliance.

This poem was relevant to the topic, because the Russo-Turkish War, which this poem was written about, was one of the main things that sparked tension between Austria and Russia, who were both present during the Congress of Berlin’s peace trial.

Strange Are The Ways Of Men:

Strange are the ways of men,
And strange the ways of God!
We tread the mazy paths
That all our fathers trod.

We tread them undismayed,
And undismayed behold
The portents of the sky
The things that were of old.

The fiery stars pursue
Their course in heav’n on high;
And round the ‘leaguered* town
Crest-tossing heroes cry.

Crest-tossing heroes cry;
And martial fifes declare
How small, to mortal minds,
Is merely mortal care.

And to the clang of steel
And cry of piercing flute,
Upon the azure peaks
A God shall plant his foot:

A God in arms shall stand,
And seeing wide and far
The green and golden earth,
The killing tide of war,

He, with uplifted arm,
Shall to the skies proclaim
The gleeful fate of man
The noble road to fame.

*’Leaguered means a siege.


The first thing that struck me about this poem was when he said, “Strange are the ways of men, And strange the ways of God! We tread the mazy paths That all our fathers trod.” It made me think that all of life is predetermined, and that God controls our fate. Although I do believe that god controls fate, I don’t think that it is predetermined. This poem seems very sacred. It references toward god, and seems to talk about a spiritual journey of realization. This poem also talks about war multiple times, by saying, “ And to the clang of steel....A God in arms shall stand, And seeing wide and far/ The green and golden earth, The killing tide of war,” I think that this poem means that war is a big journey and not for the faint hearted, but if victorious, it brings fame and glory, hence the line “The noble road to fame.”. This poem seems to bring to light how strange men actually are, because it seems that the only way men think you can solve an issue is through fighting, and war.

White Man's Burden Blog Response

1. Determine what Kipling means by "the White Man's Burden."
2. Does Kipling justify imperialism? How so?
3. Why might such a justification might be so appealing?

1) Kipling means the White Man’s Burden because at the time period, white people were respected over any other race, or gender. So they were mainly in politics, and they had the burden of imperialism, war, and their own countries. They had to take care of everyone, and people expected them to do so. If something went wrong, they were usually to blame, because they were the ones in charge.

2) He seems to start to justify it toward the end. Especially when he says, “Take up the White Man's burden! Have done with childish days-” To me, it seems as though he is saying that not becoming a man, part of the nation, and not imperializing is childish. So you need to get involved. He also hints at imperialism many times, when he says, “Take up the White Man's burden- The savage wars of peace- Fill full the mouth of Famine, And bid the sickness cease;”, and “Take up the White Man's burden- No iron rule of kings...The ports ye shall not enter, The roads ye shall not tread, Go, make them with your living, And mark them with your dead.” He also justifies it by saying this, “To seek another's profit, And work another's gain.” To me, he is saying how you can gain, and profit from imperialism, and he hints at war, so it is beneficial to imperialize from a military standpoint as well.

3) The justifications are so appealing because everyone wants their nation that they worked so hard to build to stay up to date, and not get destroyed. A way they can make sure this happens is through imperialism because it makes their nation stronger, and bigger. You can use the raw material that you recover from the new land, and the land’s army (if they have any) can help your military and defense.