“She was the bravest of us all”

Last night I watched Carve Her Name with Pride, the story of Violette Szabo, a heroine of World War II. It’s not a happy story, and the romance is vague and bittersweet–although the movie does feature a youngish Paul Scofield in a pre-Sir Thomas More role.  But the true story is so gripping, it’s a perfect movie just as it is.

I taped the movie off TCM last month during their Virginia McKenna day and was saving it for the right moment. Yesterday was stressful for all kinds of reasons, including sad news about an old friend, and I was in the mood for a war picture. (I’m not fond of watching happy movies when I feel sad–I find more solace in seeing people battling tougher odds than I will ever face.)

Violette, sent by Special Operations to spy on Germans in occupied France, used a code poem. In the movie, this poem is said to have been written by her late husband, when it was actually written by an SOE cryptographer named Leo Marks. Although the truth is less romantic, the poem is simple, beautiful and so so sad. It’s been in my head all morning.

The Life That I Have

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Leo Marks

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