a silent walk in remembrance of those affected by conflict
marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War
28 August, 2014, free, booking essential
a pair of poems will be read and poppy seeds scattered
28 August – 11 November, 2014
Günter Eich 'Inventory'
Sorley MacLean 'Heroes'
This is my cap,
this is my coat,
here is my shaving set
in a linen bag.
A tin can:
my plate, my cup,
in the metal
I have scratched my name.
Scratched it with this
which I hide
from greedy eyes.
In my haversack are
a pair of woollen socks
and some things I don’t
tell anyone about,
it serves as a pillow
at night for my head.
The cardboard lies here
between me and the earth.
The pencil lead
I love the most:
by day it writes verses for me
that I have thought up by night.
This is my notebook,
this is my canvas,
this is my towel,
this is my thread.
Günter Eich (1907–72)
translated from the German by Charlotte Melin
I did not see Lannes at Ratisbon
nor MacLennan at Auldearn
nor Gillies MacBain at Culloden,
but I saw an Englishman in Egypt.
A poor little chap with chubby cheeks
and knees grinding each other,
pimply unattractive face –
garment of the bravest spirit.
He was not a hit "in the pub
in the time of the fists being closed,"
but a lion against the breast of battle,
in the morose wounding showers.
His hour came with the shells,
with the notched iron splinters,
in the smoke and flame,
in the shaking and terror of the battlefield.
Word came to him in the bullet shower
that he should be a hero briskly,
and he was that while he lasted
but it wasn't much time he got.
He kept his guns to the tanks,
bucking with tearing crashing screech,
until he himself got, about the stomach,
that biff that put him to the ground,
mouth down in sand and gravel,
without a chirp from his ugly high-pitched voice.
No cross or medal was put to his
chest or to his name or to his family;
there were not many of his troop alive,
and if there were their word would not be strong.
And at any rate, if a battle post stands
many are knocked down because of him,
not expecting fame, not wanting a medal
or any froth from the mouth of the field of slaughter.
I saw a great warrior of England,
a poor manikin on whom no eye would rest;
no Alasdair of Glen Garry;
and he took a little weeping to my eyes.
Sorley MacLean (1911–1996)
translated from the Gaelic by the author
Günter Eich (1907–72)
Born in Lebus, Brandenburg, Eich studied Chinese and Economics before settling in Berlin, writing mainly radio dramas set in the countryside. During the Second World War he served in the Luftwaffe, in the censor's department and, latterly, in air defence. At the end of the war he was held for several months in an American internment camp. After his release, he moved to Barvaria, helping to found Gruppe 47. 'Inventory', a much anthologised poem, was published in Eich's first post-war collection, Remote Smallholdings (1948). His poetry became increasingly enigmatic, even cryptic, as he sought a form of language removed from the destructive directness of Nazi rhetoric.
Günter Eich, ‘Inventory’, trans. Charlotte Melin
© University Press of New England, Lebanon, NH. Reprinted with permission the poem of ‘Inventory’ by Günter Eich, trans. by Charlotte Melin, from German Poetry in Translation 1945-1990.
Sorley MacLean (1911–1996)
Born in the Isle of Raasay (celebrated in his masterpiece 'Hallaig'), MacLean came from a family of oral tradition bearers. He matured into the defining poet of the Scottish Gaelic revival and, from student days, for aesthetic and political reasons, committed himself to furthering the language – a decision confirmed by his friendship with Hugh MacDiarmid. MacLean trained as a teacher; following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War he was conflicted by the need to support his family, rather than serving with the anti-fascist brigades. In 1940 he joined the Signal Crops, and later – like Hamish Henderson – served in the North African Campaign, receiving severe wounds at the Battle of El Alamein. The poem included here describes an incident from this period. A Gaelic version of the poem can be viewed here.
Sorley MacLean, ‘Heroes’, trans. by the author
Sorley MacLean, Collected Poems, Ed. Christopher Whyte and Emma Dymock, Polygon, 2011.
From the late 1890s, Nymans was the Messel family home; the house has an interesting relationship with conflict, and a collection of 491 letters in the archives reveal the story of Col. Leonard Messel, who was debarred from active service on account of his German ancestry. As a result of this, Messel devoted his time and energies to training several battalions of the Royal East Kent Regiment, and his men were sent to various theatres of war – many of the letters are war-time correspondences with these men. Nymans later housed evacuees in the Second World War. The house was badly damaged by fire in 1947, only part of which was subsequently renovated.
A circular walk at Nymans from the Forecourt Garden returning via the outside of the Wall Garden. The walk is guided by poet Ken Cockburn.
1 mile, duration approx 30 minutes. The walk starts at 14:00pm.
Please wear sensible footwear and bring waterproofs in case of rain. Walks may take place on uneven ground and use stiles. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
The yew topiary and house at Nymans,
© National Trust Images: Ian Shaw
Blossom in the Wall Garden at Nymans,
© National Trust Images: John Miller
A Trust New Art commission for National Trust, supported by Arts Council England