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Poem by Henry Newbolt

Vitaï Lampada

THERE'S a breathless hush in the Close to-night --
    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 a 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 his banks,
    And England's far, and Honor a name, 
But the voice of 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 a joyful mind
    Bear through life like a torch in flame, 
And falling fling to the host behind --
    "Play up! play up! and play the game!"

Henry Newbolt

Henry Newbolt's other poems:
  1. The Quarter-Gunner's Yarn
  2. The Non-Combatant
  3. Northumberland
  4. Waggon Hill
  5. O Pulchritudo

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