09 March 2017

Poetry Thursday - "Yours" by Leo Marks

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.

Of this poem, the radio programme on which I heard it ("Between the lines") said only:
In World War II, poems used to be sent to secret agents in Naxi-occupied Europe as ciphers for coded messages. One such poem was The Life That I Have by Leo Marks, himself an English cryptographer.

Wikipedia has more information:
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. 
In 1998, towards the end of his life, Marks published a personal history of his experiences during the war, Between Silk and Cyanide, 
Leo Marks (1920-2001) was linked, as a child, to the bookshop on which the novel 84, Charing Cross Road is based. After the war he went on to write plays and films.

Act quickly if you'd like to hear more stories about information hidden "between the lines", including pop-up theatres in heavily-censored Russia and a theory about Shakespeare's Catholic connections -
Perhaps because of the high proportion of music, the programme is available on the BBC iPlayer for only 28 days. It airs early (6am!) on Sunday mornings.

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