Tag Archives: Vitai Lampada

National Poetry Day

The Torch of Life

Today, Thursday October the 4th is National Poetry Day in England.  The theme is Change.  But you know what they say; plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…..

This has long been my favourite poem, back to the days I had to learn it in Grammar school;


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 captains 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 Honour a name,

But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:

‘Play up!  play up!  and play the game!’


This is the world 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 failing fling to the host behind~

‘Play up!  play up!  and play the game!’

1892 by Sir Henry Newbolt


jack collier                                  jackcollier7@talktalk.net

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