The Superfluous Woman

“Ghosts crying down the vistas of the years,

Recalling words

Whose echoes long have died,

And kind moss grown

Over the sharp and blood-bespattered stones

Which cut our feet upon the ancient ways.


But who will look for my coming?


Long busy days where many meet and part;

Crowded aside

Remembered hours of hope;

And city streets

Grown dark and hot with eager multitudes

Hurrying homeward whither respite waits.


But who will seek me at nightfall?


Light fading where the chimneys cut the sky;

Footsteps that pass,

Nor tarry at my door.

And far away,

Behind the row of crosses, shadows black

Stretch out long arms before the smouldering sun.


But who will give me my children?”


– by Vera Brittain (from “Testament of Youth” and “Verses of a V.A.D.)

[Vera Brittain lost her brother, her fiance and other close friends during World War I. She herself gave up study at Oxford to become a nurse in France.

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