An excuse for a Sunday poem to stir the passions.

 

There was once a land the envy of the world.
A land of decent, honest, upright men and women, some rich, some poor, but all proud to be known throughout the world as being ‘special’ … they were English.
English, but part of a Great Britain that faced the world with one united face.
Four disparate tribes banded together for the common good, and presenting to the world a common face of integrity, maturity, global wisdom, and above all a sense of fair play …

“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 John Newbolt, CH (6 June 1862 – 19 April 1938)

Yes! There was once a land the envy of the world.
Or was there … ever?
There most certainly isn’t today … was it all a myth?
And if it was not, what happened?
Answers on a postcard please.

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