a silent walk in remembrance of those affected by conflict
marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War
18 June, 2014, free, booking essential
a pair of poems will be read for 'our own' and 'the others'
memorial installation open from 19 June
Paul Celan ‘There was the earth inside them ...’
Pablo Neruda ‘The Sadder Century’
There was earth inside them, and
They dug and they dug, so their day
went by for them, their night. And they did not praise God,
who, so they heard, wanted all this,
who, so they heard, knew all this.
They dug and heard nothing more;
they did not grow wise, invented no song,
thought up for themselves no language.
There came a stillness, and there came a storm,
and all the oceans came.
I dig, you dig, and the worm digs too,
and that singing out there says: They dig.
O one, o none, o no one, o you:
Where did the way lead when it led nowhere?
O you dig and I dig, and I dig towards you,
and on our finger the ring awakes.
Paul Celan (1920–1970)
translated from the German by Michael Hamburger
The Sadder Century
The century of émigrés,
the book of homelessness –
gray century, black book.
This is what I ought to leave
written in the open book,
digging it out from the century,
tinting the pages with spilled blood.
I lived the abundance
of those lost in the jungle:
I counted the cutoff hands
and the mountains of ash
and the fragmented cries
and the without-eyes glasses
and the headless hair.
Then I searched the world
for those who lost their country,
their defeated flags,
their Stars of David,
their miserable photographs.
I too knew homelessness.
But as a seasoned wanderer,
I returned empty-handed
to this sea that knows me well.
But others remain
and are still at bay,
leaving behind their loved ones, their errors
but knowing never again
and this is how I ended up sobbing
the dusty sob
intoned by the homeless.
This is the way I ended celebrating
with my brothers (those who remain)
the victorious building,
the harvest of new bread.
Pablo Neruda (1904–1973)
translated from the Spanish by Ilan Stavans
Paul Celan (1920–1970)
Born Paul Antschel to a Jewish family in Czernovitz, Romania, Celan grew up speaking Romanian, Russian, German, French, and some Yiddish. He moved to France to study medicine in 1938, but returned to Czernovitz in 1939 due in part to the Anschluss. In the 1940s, Celan’s parents were sent to an internment camp, and later to a concentration camp where they died. Celan remained imprisoned in a series of labour camps until 1944, working on poetry and translations profoundly influenced by his parents’ deaths and his own experience of the Shoah. He returned to Paris in 1948, writing and lecturing in German, translating between many languages, and becoming a French citizen in 1955. His poetry is marked by a tortured relationship with its own language, oscillating between sound and silence, stark evocation and repressed guilt. Celan committed suicide in 1970.
Paul Celan ‘The earth was inside them, and they dug’, trans. Michael Hamburger
in Poems of Paul Celan: A Bilingual German/English Edition, Persea Books 1995 (rev. ed. 2002). Permission to use the poem has been granted by Persea Books, Inc., New York.
Pablo Neruda (1904–1973)
Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto was born in Parral, Chile. He adopted the pseudonym Pablo Neruda, after the Czech poet Jan Neruda, in his teens, in order to avoid conflict with his family, many of whom disapproved of him writing poetry. In 1927 Neruda began his diplomatic career. He was recalled from Madrid in 1937 due to his outspoken sympathy for the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. In 1943, Neruda was elected to the Chilean Senate and joined the Communist Party, but was expelled once the Chilean government declared Communism illegal. A warrant for his arrest in 1948 forced him and exile and he only returned to Chile in 1953. His work, integrating private and public concerns, poetry and politics, led to his receipt of the International Peace Prize (1950), the Stalin Peace Prize (1953), and the Nobel Prize for Literature (1971). He died in Chile in 1973, only days after a military coup led by Augusto Pinochet killed the president Salvador Allende and seized power.
Pablo Neruda ‘The Sadder Century’, trans. Ilan Stavens
trans © Ilan Stavans, in THE POETRY OF PABLO NERUDA (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003), edited by Ilan Stavans
The ground floor of the house and gardens of Knightshayes Court were used as a VAD Hospital in the First and Second World Wars. During the First World War the ground floor was equipped as a hospital, accommodating 75 patients, with Lady Alexandra Amory taking on the role of supervisory matron. Important early work in prosthetics was accomplished here. Many of the employees of the hospital were recruited from the local community. One of the VAD nurses kept an autograph book, which she asked soldiers to contribute to, collecting autographs, poems – some light-hearted some more sombre – and paintings.
A circular walk starting from reception, returning via the tennis court
1 mile, duration approx. 60 minutes, from 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.
Sun setting at Knightshayes Court,
© National Trust Images:James Dobson
Drying flowers hung from the ceiling at Knightshayes Court,
© National Trust Images: Paul Harris
A Trust New Art commission for National Trust, supported by Arts Council England