Brittain, Vera, Diary, 1 January 1916

Diary of Vera Brittain


Case Study: 
From Youth to Experience: Vera Brittain’s Work for Peace in Two World Wars
Brittain, Vera
1 January 1916
McMaster University Libraries
Vera Brittain estate; McMaster University has a non-exclusive licence to publish this document.


vivid our vision of how the world ended for what was -- and still is -- the most terribly dear of all things on earth. It calls up rather a different vision for me since I learnt the details of his death. I do not so much see him lying amid a heap of fallen soldiers with his white face upturned to the glory of the Eastern sky, and the Archangel in the Heavens with his wings spread protectingly over them. Now I see a small room in a Hospital, and a bed with all that remains of Him lying upon it; the few objects in the room are becoming faintly visible, and gradually filtering through the window with growing intensity the cold blue light of Dawn falls upon his dear dead face -- upon the "queer bristly head" that rested against my shoulder -- upon the closed beautiful eyes that I loved more than my soul -- upon the firmly shut lips that I kissed in the first agonizing awakening of passion.
And his mother -- with her infinite memories of the son who was even less of a son than a lover and a friend -- what must she have seen & thought? And those two, with their recollections of Uppingham days, of the Three Musketeers, now three no longer.
"O gentle child, beautiful as thou wert,
Why didst thou leave the trodden paths of men,
Too soon, and with weak hands though mighty heart
Dare the unpastured Dragon in his den?"
Yes, we all wept. And Victor went and stood outside before he need have, in the wind & darkness and rain, struggling with himself. Why, even as they two sprawled on the bed talking to Mrs. Leighton, the want of that Third, who would have lain in the middle, made that very camaraderie a grief.
I talked with Mrs. Leighton late again that night. I never realised the Leightons were Scotch. To think of the Well-Beloved, with his Cornish blood & semi-French manner