Roundel

- 1893-1970

("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.

More by Vera Brittain

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.

A Military Hospital

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.

To My Ward-Sister

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
Content from uneventful years arise
     As you toil on, mechanically kind.

So thus far have your smooth days passed, but when
     The tempest none escape shall cloud your sky,
And Life grows dark around you, through your pain
You'll learn the meaning of your mercy then
     To those who blessed you as you passed them by,
Nor seek to tread the untroubled road again.