Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Vera Brittain - Perhaps

Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although bereft of You.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away.

Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there.

Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to Christmas songs again,
Although You cannot hear.'

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

What is the poem about?
This poem is specific in that it is dedicated to Vera Brittain’s fiancé Roland Leighton who died around the time that the poem “The Falling Leaves” was written. In the poem, Brittain talks about how the seasons will pass and that “perhaps” she will begin to get over his death – but she concludes by saying she will never forget him.

      5 stanzas of regular length and regular rhyme scheme – why is this so rigid and monotonous? – it mimics time rolling on, as time does – it won’t stop just because her fiancé has died. It also suggests that all the beautiful things she describes happening in the coming seasons will not be as beautiful because he has died.
      The stanzas are split with 3 lines on one topic and the last line on another – how are they split? – the first three lines discuss the seasons and what will happen in them, offering a positive picture of what might be beautiful, whilst the last line reflects back on how her fiancé has died and has a negative feel.
      The poem is structured around the four seasons – why? What does this suggest about nature and time? – nature and time continue on despite the war and all the loss.

Very strong images are given of the seasons: “golden meadows”, “sunny hours”, “white May blossoms” of Spring, suggesting new life and a freshness. In summer, there will be “crimson roses” (perhaps referring to blood?) and the “autumn harvest fields” will give a “rich delight”.
Winter is described particularly painfully, referring to New Year and Christmas – family-orientated times – and a year on from when the poem is written, an anniversary. New Year is often seen as a sad time as it is particularly symbolic of time passing – another year has gone by without him.
In the opening stanza, we get a feeling that the speaker is very depressed – the sun is not shining for her and she sees little point to her life, she is living “in vain”.
“You” is capitalised – perhaps to highlight the importance of the man she has lost, glorifying him. You could also see it as quite generalised – despite the dedication at the start, there is no name given throughout the poem.

The poem is called “Perhaps-” with a very specific dash after the word – why? The word itself suggests that she doesn’t believe it will happen – like when you ask if you can do something and you’re told “perhaps” – you know it means no!
The last stanza answers the almost-question of “Perhaps” – with quite a firm reply that her heart has been broken and so it seems she won’t get over his death.

In summary
      A poem which highlights how nature and time are ongoing and will continue despite the loss of a loved one.
      Focuses on positive aspects of nature, but tinged with sadness.
      Is both personal (dedicated to her fiance) and general (no name given, only “You”)

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