World War I Poetry by Women: Vera Brittain

Perhaps ( To R. A. L.)
Vera Brittain

Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although bereft of You.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away.

Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there.

Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to Christmas songs again,
Although You cannot hear.

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

Written in 1919, this poem is dedicated to Brittain’s fiancé Roland Aubrey Leighton (1895-1915), killed at age 20 by a sniper while inspecting the wire in front of his unit’s trenches.

(Roland Aubrey Leighton)

Vera Brittain (1893-1970) was 21 at the time of Leighton’s death and had accepted his marriage proposal barely four months earlier.

When the war broke out, she was studying Literature at Somerville College, Oxford, and in the summer of 1915 she interrupted her studies to become a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. Leighton was killed in December of the same year. Two of Brittain’s close friends (Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow) and her brother Edward were also killed in the war.

(Brittain during the war)

Also: Alice Corbin, Eva Dobell.

Similar posts: Edward Thomas: “6.IV.15”; and The Night Virginia Woolf Went Skinny-Dipping with a Poet.



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