Playing the Game

Playing the Game: The Culture of Digital Games

Vitaï Lampada

The title of this module is taken from the poem Vitaï Lampada by Henry Newbolt (1862-1938), published in 1897 and reproduced below. 'Vitaï Lampada' is Latin and translates as 'The Torch of Life'. The words "Play up! Play up! And play the game!", which recur through the poem, refer in the first instance to cricket, but Newbolt suggests that they can be a motto throughout life, applicable even during the horrors of war.

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 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 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!"

You can read more about Newbolt and his poem here and here.