a silent walk in remembrance of those affected by conflict
marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War
24 June, 2014, free, booking essential
a pair of poems will be read for 'our own' and 'the others'
memorial installation open from 25 June
Mahmoud Darwish ‘In Jerusalem’
Yusuf Komunyakaa ‘Facing It’
In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls,
I walk from one epoch to another without a memory
to guide me. The prophets over there are sharing
the history of the holy… ascending to heaven
and returning less discouraged and melancholy, because love
and peace are holy and are coming to town.
I was walking down a slope and thinking to myself: How
do the narrators disagree over what light said about a stone?
Is it from a dimly lit stone that wars flare up?
I walk in my sleep. I stare in my sleep. I see
no one behind me. I see no one ahead of me.
All this light is for me. I walk. I become lighter. I fly
then I become another. Transfigured. Words
sprout like grass from Isaiah’s messenger
mouth: “If you don’t believe you won’t believe.”
I walk as if I were another. And my wound a white
biblical rose. And my hands like two doves
on the cross hovering and carrying the earth.
I don’t walk, I fly, I become another,
transfigured. No place and no time. So who am I?
I am no I in ascension’s presence. But I
think to myself: Alone, the prophet Muhammad
spoke classical Arabic. “And then what?”
Then what? A woman soldier shouted:
Is that you again? Didn’t I kill you?
I said: You killed me… and I forgot, like you, to die.
Mahmoud Darwish (1941–2008)
translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah
My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn’t,
dammit: No tears.
I’m stone. I’m flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way – the stone lets me go. I
turn that way – I’m inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap’s white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet’s image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I’m a window.
He’s lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman’s trying to erase names:
No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.
Yusef Komunyakaa (1947–)
Mahmoud Darwish (1941–2008)
Born in Al Birweh, Galilee, Palestine, into a Sunni Muslim family, Darwish's village was razed to the ground during the conflict to establish the state of Israel in 1948. As a young poet Darwish was imprisoned and placed under house arrest for his political and cultural activism. He spent almost three decades in exile, living in Moscow, Cairo, Beirut and Paris, editing the journals Palestinian Affairs and A- Karmel, and serving as the director of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s research center. He was appointed to the PLO executive committee, but resigned in 1993 in opposition to the Oslo Agreement. In 1996 he was finally permitted to return to his homeland, to live in Ramallah in the West Bank. His work gave voice to the Palestinian diaspora and expressed dismay at the occupation. Darwish published more than thirty poetry and prose collections, and many of his poems were set to music. He died in 2008, at the aged of 67, in Houston, Texas, after complications from heart surgery.
‘In Jerusalem’, translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah
Mahmoud Darwish, The Butterfly’s Burden, (Copper Canyon Press, 2007)
Yusef Komunyakaa (1947–)
Born in the segregated mill town of Bogalusa, Louisiana, the son of a carpenter, James William Brown later reclaimed the family name Komunyakaa. He served in Vietnam from 1968-1971, as a correspondent for the Army paper, Southern Cross. Increasingly opposed to what he saw as an unjust war, Komunyakaa considered desertion, but chose instead to "bear witness". He was awarded the Bronze Star for his work documenting the lives of servicemen. His experiences were distilled in Dien Cai Dau (1988) – the title means 'crazy', in Vietnamese – in which his vivid use of vernacular and hip phrases capture the insane chaos and complexity of war, while also encompassing the mindset of protestors back home. 'Facing It' is set at the Vietnam War memorial in Washington. He has taught creative writing at many American universities, including New Orleans, Indiana, Berkeley and Riverrun, Colorado. More recently Komunyakaa has collaborated with dramaturge Chad Gracia on a dramatic adaptation of The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Yusuf Komunyakaa, ‘Facing It’
Yusef Komunyakaa, ‘Facing It’ from Dien Cai Dau © 1988 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Stourhead’s renowned estate and eighteenth century gardens feature a diversity of buildings and follies – temples of Flora and Apollo, grotto, pantheon, dam and cascade, Palladian bridge, rock arch, Bristol cross, gothic cottage, ice house, and even King Alfred’s Tower, built to commemorate the accession of George III and the end of the Seven Years War (1760). Inspired by Virgil's Aeneid the gardens are laid out as a circular walk with composed views and poetic interludes. Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare’s son Henry Colt Arthur Hoare died in 1917 in the Battle of El Mughar, during the British Armies Southern Palestine Offensive. His death would eventually lead to Stourhead’s being given to the National Trust in 1946.
A circular walk starting from Stourhead House, via Stourton Memorial Hall
2 miles , 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.
Tulip tree on the lake at Stourhead,
© National Trust Images: Stephen Robson
Lakeside at Stourhead in May,
© National Trust Images: Timothy Smith
A Trust New Art commission for National Trust, supported by Arts Council England