2016-12-23

Dec. 23. Far, forgetting land

On this day in 1915, the poet Roland Leighton died of his wounds, aged only twenty, in the Casualty Clearing Station at Louvencourt, France. He had been shot through the stomach by a sniper while inspecting wire in the trenches at H├ębuterne. Leighton is famous for his love of Vera Brittain, also a poet - a love which blooms in their prolific and intimate correspondence. For her he wrote the poem Vilanelle about "Violets from Plug Street Wood". His poetry and their love story inspires visitors to leave violets in his memory on his grave in the military cemetery at Louvencourt, near Doullens, France. Their correspondence and Roland's poetry is a commentary on life for those serving at the front, and how their tribulations could not be comprehended by those at home - "Violets from oversea, To your dear, far, forgetting land".
This item is from The First World War Poetry Digital Archive, University of Oxford (www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit); © The Vera Brittain Fonds, McMaster University Library / The Roland Leighton Literary Estate
An online curated pathway Women in the War - Vera Brittain, written by Alisa Miller, provides a fascinating introduction to their correspondence and their poems in The First World War Poetry Digital Archive.

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This post is part of our Advent calendar. New stories are published every day from Dec 1 until Christmas.

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