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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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That poem

One of the most frequently asked questions in relation to Violette Szabo & the film Carve Her Name With Pride (1958) is about the poem that in the film Etienne Szabo wrote for Violette and she subsequently used as her code poem.

In fact it was written by Leo Marks, that amazing man who, at the age of just 22, was in charge of all the SOE agents codes and ciphers. He soon discovered that if a well known poem was used, it could be guessed if only a few words of it were discovered. So he used to compose original poems.

The poem was written by Leo when he heard about the death of his fiancée in a plane crash in Canada. The full details are given in his very readable book "Between Silk and Cyanide".

He subsequently gave the poem to Violette to use on her second mission. She asked who had written it and he promised to find out and tell her when she returned. Violette never did return.

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 published the poem in 1999 in a little booklet illustrated by his wife Elena Gaussen Marks.

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