Vitai Lampada

Henry Newbolt's 1898 poem—he was compelled to recite it wherever he spoke afterward—must have hit the Victorians like a two-by-four between the eyes. It certainly made an impression on the characters in AtD, who refer to it at least three times. (Dr. De Bottle quotes on p. 236; Cyprian quotes on p. 813; Dally sees quotations on tombstones on p. 893.) Perhaps not enough to make it a theme of the work, but consider how it shapes (or fails to shape) people's responses:

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 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 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!'

Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)
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