"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Once Upon A Time

We all know these two poems from our childhood state education:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Invictus, WE Henley, 1849 - 1903

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!

Vita Lambada (They pass on the torch of life) Newbolt, 1862 - 1938


  1. Yes we do, but no longer it seems

    At my school they added 'If' by Rudyard Kiplingt although I feel it should apply to women as well

    Jerusalem was also sung once a week

    1. No, no longer. It's a shame because poetry has much to offer us all, not just school-children. I remember the self-discipline required to learn verses in order to recite at the front of the classroom comes in handy in life (oh, the blushes!).

      It's been fashionable in recent decades to decry poetry as elitist but, for inspiring youngsters of all backgrounds, for letting imagination run riot, for providing the opportunity to dip in and out of examples of fine literature, I can't come up with a better example.

      The minds and bodies of our youngsters have been enchained in the cotton wool of cultural marxism - and we, the parents, allowed it. Shameful. I blame Roger McGough!

  2. "Calling England" has been included in the A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.



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