Published on Academy of American Poets (

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.


This poem is in the public domain.


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.


Date Published: 2018-11-09

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