The Life That I Have
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In the war, famous poems were used to encrypt messages. This was, however, found to be insecure because enemy cryptanalysts were able to locate the original from published sources. Marks countered this by using his own written creations. The Life That I Have was an original poem composed on Christmas Eve 1943 and was originally written by Marks in memory of his girlfriend Ruth, who had just died in a plane crash in Canada. On 24 March 1944, the poem was issued by Marks to Violette Szabo, a French agent of Special Operations Executive who was eventually captured, tortured and killed by the Nazis.
It was made famous by its inclusion in the 1958 movie about Szabo, Carve Her Name with Pride, where the poem was said to be the creation of Violette's husband Etienne. (Marks allowed it to be used under the condition that its author not be identified.)
The text of the poem:
- 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 (1998). Between Silk and Cyanide. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-255944-7. Marks relates his briefing of Violette Szabo prior to her first mission, and his giving the poem to her in Chapter 65 of this book.
- Leo Marks (1999). The Life That I Have. illus. by Elena Gaussen Marks. London: Souvenir. ISBN 0-285-63532-8. A small 34 page book with the text of the poem, illustrated by his wife.