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what was the real purpose of verse 70?

The fabled Leo Marks wrote this poem for Violette Szabo and she used it as her Poem Code* throughout the second world war.

Violette Szabo: French born. English agent in France in WW2. German captive. Executed Ravensbruck after lengthy interrogations. Posthumous George Cross.

Violette picked out five words from Leo’s poem: five words that encapsulated his eternal love for her.

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.



They were the only key to decrypting the coded messages she transmitted to London: she must have thought of him every time she sent a message.

This is a copy of  Violette Szabo’s George Cross citation.

Madame Szabo volunteered to undertake a particularly dangerous mission in France. She was parachuted into France in April, 1944, and undertook the task with enthusiasm. In her execution of the delicate researches entailed she showed great presence of mind and astuteness.

She was twice arrested by the German security authorities but each time managed to get away. . Eventually, however, with other members of her group, she was surrounded by the Gestapo in a house in the south west of France.

Resistance appeared hopeless but Madame Szabo, seizing a Sten-gun and as much ammunition as she could carry, barricaded herself in part of the house and, exchanging shot for shot with the enemy, killed or wounded several of them.’ By constant movement, she avoided being cornered and fought until she dropped exhausted.

She was arrested and had to undergo solitary confinement. She was then continuously and atrociously tortured but never by word or deed gave away any of her acquaintances or told the enemy anything of any value. She was ultimately executed.

Madame Szabo gave a magnificent example of courage and steadfastness.


Verse 70

Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before

I swore—but was I sober when I swore?

And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand

My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.

*poem code = substitution cipher.