Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

Villanelle by Roland Leighton

Violets from Plug Street Wood,
Sweet, I send you oversea.
(It is strange they should be blue,
Blue, when his soaked blood was red,
For they grew around his head;
It is strange they should be blue.)

Violets from Plug Street Wood-
Think what they have meant to me-
Life and Hope and Love and You
(And you did not see them grow
Where his mangled body lay
Hiding horror from the day;
Sweetest it was better so.)

Violets from oversea,
To your dear, far, forgetting land
These I send in memory,
Knowing you will understand.

 (from left to right - Edward Brittain, Vera's brother, Roland Leighton, her fiance, Victor Richardson, her close friend. All died during the War)


As I sit writing this today’s fine August evening, when the atmosphere is so pleasant and tender I realise that there’s nothing worse in this world than life lost in vain. War is the thing you discuss a lot either you are for or against it. Hell, there’s a war here just now. It’s crazy sometimes how no matter how many books had been written humanity would never be wiser.

I am so grateful that I came across this book. Vera was really a “my person”. I truly understand her and agree with her in most cases. That’s why reading this book was even physically difficult. Her pain was my pain too. I admire the strength which drove her to fight like no other man would fight. There’s beauty and sadness in it.

I don’t really want to go into plot’s details; it’s a book about World War I. But I promise you, that’s not like the other books of this kind. It is fierce and truthful and strong and makes all women proud of their kind. It would show you that you are capable of anything as long as you are driven. Vera was a very modern woman considering that she wrote her lines nearly 100 years ago and I read them as my own thoughts.

I definitely recommend it to anyone. There’s lots of beautiful poetry in it as well.
P.S. All the poems in this post have been written by Roland Leighton, Vera's fiance. He wrote these poems to her.

Nachklang by Roland Leighton

Down the long white road we walked together
Down between the grey hills and the heather,
Where the tawny-crested
Plover cries.

You seemed all brown and soft, just like a linnet,
Your errant hair had shadowed sunbeams in it,
And there shone all April
In your eyes.

With your golden voice of tears and laughter
Softened into song ‘Does aught come after
Life,’ you asked 'When life is
Laboured through?

What is God and all for which we’re striving?’
'Sweetest sceptic, we were born for living;
Life is Love, and Love is—
You, dear, you.’