The Lost Generation : World War I Poetry : Vera Brittain

Cover of Poems of the War and After by Vera Brittain.


Vera Brittain joined the British Voluntary Aid Detachment, or V.A.D., in 1915 to work as a nurse; she served in London, France and Malta during the war. Poems of War and After reprints the poems originally published in Brittain’s Verses of a V.A.D. (1918). This earlier volume was dedicated to her fiancé and fellow poet Roland Leighton, who died in the war along with Brittain’s brother Edward and several close friends, whose letters Brittain quotes in her memoir Testament of Youth (1933). In her earlier V.A.D. poems, Brittain provides precise dates and locations, allowing the reader to follow her movements and losses, from “A Military Hospital” in London 1916, to “In Memoriam G.R.Y.T. (Killed in action at Monchy-le-Preux, April 23rd, 1917)” written in Malta, to “Sic Transit—(V.R., Died of Wounds, June 9th, 1917)” dated London, June 1917. Brittain’s poems reflect the pain of surviving one’s friends and relations, a pain expressed in her memory of blue-grey eyes, a youthful gait, “of intimacy sweet though scarce begun” (p. 29). 

Find Poems of the War and After in the UNT Library Catalog.