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Pitch and toss

Posted by David FG on June 11, 2005

In Reply to: Pitch and toss posted by Serhij Duford on June 11, 2005

: I was just wondering what the game of "pitch and toss" was in this poem. Does it mean a game of dice, or is it symbolizing a deeper meaning of risking everything on a simple venture or belief? Below is the entire poem, the question concerns the third stanza.

: If you can keep your head when all about you
: Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
: If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
: But make allowance for their doubting too;
: If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
: Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
: Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
: And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

: If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
: If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
: If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
: And treat those two imposters just the same;
: If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
: Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
: Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
: And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

: If you can make one heap of all your winnings
: And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
: And lose, and start again at your beginnings
: And never breathe a word about your loss;
: If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
: To serve your turn long after they are gone,
: And so hold on when there is nothing in you
: Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

: If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
: Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
: If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
: If all men count with you, but none too much;
: If you can fill the unforgiving minute
: With sixty seconds' worth of distance run --
: Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
: And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

Pitch and Toss was (and is) a game in which coins were thrown at a determined point - a stick or whatever - the nearest to that point being the winner.

Kipling is using it to symbolize a willingness to risk everything on a venture.


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