Amid details of the weak star power at the Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky wedding provided by the New York Times was a curious tidbit: “A friend of the couple read the poem ‘The Life That I Have’ by Leo Marks.” A nation of voyeurs, clamoring for details of the ceremony, read about this poem and promptly Googled it (see trends below), finding a pithy, affecting little piece. (The full piece is after the jump.) But a little more digging reveals that Leo Marks was a cryptographer who created codes for the allies during World War II. Marks helped spies use poem ciphers as a key to encode messages, though he insisted they work with original poems, to enhance security. “The Life That I Have,” in particular, was given to Violette Szabo, a World War II secret agent. The Clinton Conspiracy continues!
Can’t you just see Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh salivating over this? Obviously it’s nothing (just a nice poem, right?) but the historical background is fascinating, especially in the context of a family plagued by insane charges of conspiracy and murder.
The Wikipedia rabbit hole reveals that the poem gained popularity when it was featured in the 1958 film Carve Her Name With Pride (and book first) based on the life of spy Szabo, a Special Operations Executive, who was executed (!!!) by the Gestapo at the age of 23. Juicy, right?
Marks is believed to have written the poem about a girlfriend who died in an airplane crash. To the Clinton friends who selected this poem: it’s a little loaded, no? “The Life That I Have” goes a little something like this:
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
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.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 1, 2010