I’ve spent the last week absorbed in reading about Vera Brittain & yesterday, on Anzac Day, I saw the new film of Testament of Youth. As scenes of parting at railway stations seem to be central to so many stories of WWI, here is a poem Vera wrote after saying goodbye to Roland.
St Pancras Station, August 1915
One long, sweet kiss pressed close upon my lips,
One moment’s rest on your swift-beating heart,
And all was over, for the hour had come
For us to part.
A sudden forward motion of the train,
The world grown dark although the sun still shone,
One last blurred look through aching tear-dimmed eyes –
And you were gone.
I can’t resist adding one of Roland’s poems as well. I’ve always loved this one, with its wistful poignancy. He was killed just a month later, just before Christmas 1915.
Hedauville, November 1915
The sunshine on the long white road
That ribboned down the hill,
The velvet clematis that clung
Around your window-sill,
Are waiting for you still.
Again the shadowed pool shall break
In dimples round your feet,
And when the thrush sings in your wood,
Unknowing you may meet
Another stranger, Sweet.
And if he is not quite so old
As the boy you used to know,
And less proud, too, and worthier,
You may not let him go –
(And daisies are truer than passion-flowers)
It will be better so.