a silent walk in remembrance of those affected by conflict
marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War
29 July, free, booking essential
a pair of poems will be read and poppy seeds scattered
memorial installation open from 30 July 2014
George Oppen from ‘Route’
Alice Oswald from ‘Memorial’
Wars that are just? A simpler question: In the event, will you
or will you not want to kill a German. Because, in the event,
if you do not want to, you won’t.
… and my wife reading letters she knew were two weeks late and did not prove I was not dead while she read. Why did I play all that, what was I doing there?
We are brothers, we are brothers? – these things are composed of a moral substance only if they are untrue. If these things are true they are perfectly simple, perfectly impenetrable, those primary elements which can only be named.
A man will give his life for his friend provided he wants to.
In all probability a man will give his life for his child provided
his child is an infant.
… One man could not understand me because I was saying simple things; it seemed to him that nothing was being said.
I was saying: there is a mountain, there is a lake.
A picture seen from within. The picture is unstable, a moving picture, unlimited drift. Still the picture exists.
George Oppen (1908–1984)
Grief is black it is made of earth
It gets into the cracks in the eyes
It lodges its lump in the throat
When a man sees his brother on the ground
He goes mad he comes running out of nowhere
Lashing without looking and that was how COON died
First he wounded Agamemnon
Then he grabbed his brother’s stiffened foot
And tried to drag him home shouting
Help for god’s sake this is Iphidamas
Someone please help but Agamemnon
Cut off his head and that was that
Two brothers killed on the same morning by the same man
That was their daylight here finished
And their long nightshift in the underworld just beginning
Alice Oswald (1966–)
George Oppen (1908–1984)
George Oppen was a leading Objectivist poet who, on joining the Communist Party in 1936, abandoned poetry for politics. In 1942 Oppen volunteered for active service and, in 1944, was involved in fierce fighting in the Ardennes, where he was seriously wounded; he was later awarded a Purple Heart. The serial poem 'Route', which includes prose passages, describes these experiences. He and his wife Mary were forced to emigrate to Mexico in the 1950s to avoid investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee. After the committee declined in influence, they returned to the US in 1958 and Oppen started writing again. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1969.
George Oppen, New Collected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2003)
Alice Oswald (1966–)
Alice Oswald trained first as a Classicist, and subsequently as a gardener. Her poetry often combines an interest in landscape and ecology with a close attention to diversity of poetic voice and voicing, most famously in her long poem Dart. Memorial (2011) is a re-working of Homer's Iliad which, stripped of the original poem's narrative context, is an extended litany of the war dead. She has characterized this antiphonal epic as being, paradoxically, akin to a village war memorial recording the names of the young men fallen on a foreign field. It is already recognized as one of the key accusatory responses to the 'War Against Terror'.
Alice Oswald, from ‘Memorial’
in Memorial, Faber and Faber, 2011
with permission of the poet.
The large estate, woodland and gardens which comprise Chirk were leased from the Myddleton family to Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis (8th Lord Howard de Walden). Scott-Ellis was a polymath and a supporter of the arts, and in the early part of the 20th century Chirk Castle served as a party house for royalty, artists, writers, poets and musicians. The house collection includes commissions from Rodin and Augustus John, amongst others. Scott-Ellis served in the Boer War, and in Gallipoli and France during the First World War; many of the estate families also suffered losses. Wilfred Owen was born nearby in Oswestry.
A circular walk from the Chirk Castle tower-room to the village memorial and back. The walk is guided by poet Ken Cockburn.
2 miles, duration approx 1 hour. 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.
Chirk Castle with Nymph statue,
© National Trust Images: Matthew Antrobus
Hercules statue in the Lime Walk at Chirk Castle, ,
© National Trust Images: Stephen Robson
A Trust New Art commission for National Trust, supported by Arts Council England