Chelsea wedding poem’s link to spycraft

Chelsea’s wedding poem was originally code for British spies

Now that the ceremony is over, Chelsea Clinton’s wedding guests are finally free to gossip all they want about the former first daughter’s weekend nuptials to longtime boyfriend Marc Mezvinsky.

One of the latest leaks: The couple reportedly had an official wedding poem that was read during the ceremony. Written by the late British poet Leo Marks, it’s called “The Life That I Have,” and it goes like this:

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

While the reading no doubt prompted a Kleenex moment or two at the wedding, the poem’s back story is unusual. Searches for the poem spiked on Yahoo! over the weekend and a few writers have tracked down its origins.

It turns out, Marks was a cryptographer for the British during World War II who wrote original poetry coded with secret messages and taught spies to do the same.

Marc Mezvinsky (L), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd L), Chelsea Clinton and former President Bill Clinton (R) pose after Chelsea and Marc's wedding ceremony at Astor Court in Rhinebeck, New York July 31, 2010. REUTERS/Manio Photography/Handout

But as Forbes’ Richard Hyfler writes, this poem’s origins appear to fall outside the purview of Marks’ usual work. Marks wrote it on Christmas Eve 1943 in honor of a girlfriend who had just been killed in a plane crash. Yet Marks later passed it on to Violette Szabo, a French woman spying for Allied forces, hoping she would use the poem’s rhythm and structure to construct future messages. She was captured and later died in a Nazi prison.

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