Random musings from the front line (well, more like the support trench, or perhaps the castle 10 miles away, supping Chateau Lafite with the General Staff) in the battle for curiosity, inertia, grammar and a Dachshund called Colin.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Vitae Lampada" by Sir Henry Newbolt

Now THIS is a cracking poem. Old fashioned, it rhymes and bangs on about honour, patriotism and stuff. AND it provides the title to this Blog.

There's a breathless hush in The Close tonight
Ten to make and the match to win
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play, and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat.
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red-
Red with the wreck of the square that broke
The gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed its banks,
And England's far and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks-
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with joyful mind
And bear through life like a torch in flame,
falling fling to the host behind-
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

That's it. No commentary, no 'lit crit', just an exhortation for all my readers (both of them) to memorise it. And then recite it, loudly, when drunk.
Another blow against ... er ... self-absorption.

3 Rants & Replies:

Blogger Willie Lupin said...

A triumph of style over substance, I'd say (the poem, not your blog).
You're right, it rattles along like an express train and, like a lot of rhythmic movement, gives some satisfaction. I'm just not sure it's a train I want to be on.

7:06 pm, May 14, 2005

Blogger Merkin said...

Ah, but I'm an old-fashioned soul, and although it's from the "Empire is Best" school of literature, there's nothing in the content that's offensive to modern sensibilities, just stuff that's a bit unfashionable in today's meritocratic and mediocre society. But what a rhythm!

1:22 pm, May 16, 2005

Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Indeed. As Lady Newbolt was wont to say: 'Hit me with your rhythm stick, Henry!'

4:24 pm, May 16, 2005


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