I’m rereading Testament of Youth again after seeing the new movie version last weekend. I enjoyed the movie, Alicia Vikander was wonderful, & the changes to the story didn’t irritate me as much as I thought they might. But, it didn’t affect me emotionally as reading the book always does. It’s been a few years since I last read it & I find something different in every reading. This time, I’m noticing how much foreshadowing Vera does in her telling of her story. The shadow of Roland & Edward’s deaths are there from the very beginning & I wondered how much the first readers knew of her story before they read the book. She certainly doesn’t lead up to the tragedy gently by painting a picture of pre-war paradise. Maybe that’s what makes reading Testament of Youth such a personal experience.
I’m up to December 1915. Vera is nursing in London & about to go on leave to meet Roland in Brighton but she won’t be meeting him because he dies of wounds just before he was due to go on leave. I don’t know when Vera wrote this poem, but I think it would have been very soon after Roland’s death, the feelings are so raw.
(To R.A.L. died of wounds in France,
December 23rd, 1915)
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.