Distrust and Hope

Testament of Youth
Learning Versus Life
Villanelle, 135
“Think what they have meant to me— Life and Hope and Love and You”
“Where his mangled body lay,”
“Hiding horror from the day; “
Okay, so these are some lines from Ttestament of Youth-Chapter four. The lines above, obviously, refer and talk about hope, and yet, they also talk about horror. It is the story of this woman who had lost her love in the war. He left, promising her to return,
“we said good-bye. ” But I am coming back, dear. Let it always be ‘ when ‘ and not ‘ if.’” (136).
Nonetheless, as war always is, he did not return:
“a large amethyst set as a brooch, and sent with a tiny card inscribed : ” In Memoriam. March 18th, i915.” I held it

13” (135).
This poem interested me so much, for one specific reason. It combines ‘hope’ and reflects ‘distrust’ in its finelines. It talks about hope—hope to see him (Roland) again, but, she doesn’t; he ‘breaks’ his promise and ‘gets killed.’
Such hope—to see Roland again—and betrayal—if we may call it so—betrayal by life—by war—she could no longer trust life or (and) trust promises as she did before. As a matter of fact, at one line, she says:
“ROLAND went to the front on March 3Ist, 1915” (135). I always read that recollecting the exact dates must imply something important, and in this case, mentioning the date, implies—or, at least, I think it implies the importance of this date, and the deep wound it left in her heart.
At another point, the poet talks about her fears and dreams in Roland’s absence, saying:
when you arc fighting the fear of it—bravely, as I know you will—I too shall be facing that fear, and can at least be with you in spirit then. . . . Sometime after you had gone, I began again to dream of all that may still be after the War —
when you return, and to plan out work to make me worthier… (136).

guess, I could imagine, what would it mean to be betrayed—if we may call it so—by your love, is it? War, is it? Or is it perhaps life?
The poem really caught my attention as a few days ago, I was reading an article in the Jerusalem Post—an Israeli mainstream Newspaper, and titled:
Trust Obama on Israel

The article, like many of its kind express the fear that Obama would not treat Israel the way it wants—or maybe the way it should—and I immediately wondered if the holocaust has anything to do with such anxiety on the Israeli part every time the United States elections begin. I mean, the Jews, were technically betrayed by the world, so I imagine, they would fear betrayal by the United States today—and it just made me wonder, especially that the article comes from one of their newspapers. Anyway, moving on, another statement about trust within the article that caught my attention is:
“I’m confident,” Obama said, “that Israel is ready and willing to make some of these concessions if they have the confidence that the Palestinians can enforce
an agreement.”

Obviously, here, too, the article is referring to confidence—trust again in the other party, and it made me wonder; how much does war—and losses of the war effect persons’ ability to trust others, and even themselves? In the article, for example, Israelis, are obviously worried that Obama will not meet their expectations—they fear he will not do what they want. On another point, it talks about Israel’s ability to trust Palestinians and their ability to enforce an agreement. Could this mean that trust, always, can become an issue for those who live war?
The article claims that Israel felt that Bill Clinton betrayed Israel, by (as they say) taking concessions from Israel, but got (again, according to the article) nothing from the Palestinians. Well, I can see the connection here as—Israelis felt betrayed by Clinton, who did not get them what they want, and now they were (are) worried that President Obama will do the same to them, as, he too, is Democrat (like President Clinton was).
The poem expresses this horror and hope and loss—as the woman lost her love in the war, and here, Israelis are worried that Obama will do to them like Clinton did (according to the article).
To sum things up, I view the poem and the article as signs that war and losses of the war, strike people’s (victims’) ability to trust the others, which end up creating more problems.

Peretz, Martin, Feb 3, 2009, “Trust Obama on Israel” Jerusalem Post

Villanelle, 135-136. “Learning Versus Life.” Ttestament of Youth.


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