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About this poet

Vera Brittain was born on December 29, 1893, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. In 1914 she began studying English literature at Somerville College, Oxford. The following year, she left to serve as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment, in hospitals in London and France. She published her first poetry collection, Verses of a V.A.D (Erskine Macdonald), in 1918. After the war ended, she completed her studies at Somerville College. She went on to publish Poems of the War and After (Macmillan, 1934); several novels, including Honourable Estate (Macmillan, 1936); and several historical studies, including Lady into Woman: a History of Women from Victoria to Elizabeth II (Macmillan, 1953). A lifelong pacifist after her experiences in World War I, she served as chairman of the Peace Pledge Union. She was named a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1946. She died in London on March 29, 1970.

Roundel

("Died of Wounds")

Because you died, I shall not rest again,
     But wander ever through the lone world wide,
Seeking the shadow of a dream grown vain
               Because you died.

I shall spend brief and idle hours beside
     The many lesser loves that still remain,
But find in none my triumph and my pride;

And Disillusion's slow corroding stain
     Will creep upon each quest but newly tried,
For every striving now shall nothing gain
               Because you died.

France,
          February 1918.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Vera Brittain

Vera Brittain

Vera Brittain was born in 1893 in Staffordshire. She served as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment during World War I before publishing her first poetry collection, Verses of a V.A.D (Erskine Macdonald), in 1918. She died in London in 1970.

 

by this poet

poem

A mass of human wreckage, drifting in
     Borne on a blood-red tide,
Some never more to brave the stormy sea
     Laid reverently aside,
And some with love restored to sail again
     For regions far and wide.

1st London General Hospital, 1916.

poem

(In Memory of July 1, 1916)

Your battle-wounds are scars upon my heart,
     Received when in that grand and tragic "show"
You played your part
     Two years ago,

And silver in the summer morning sun
     I see the symbol of your courage glow—
That Cross you won
     Two

poem

Night Duty, December 1917

Through the night-watches of our House of Sighs
     In capable serenity of mind
     You steadily achieve the tasks designed
With calm, half-smiling, interested eyes;
Though all-unknowing, confidently wise
     Concerning pain you never felt, you find