Nation to choose quote to honour Scotland's war poets

Edinburgh Napier supports project

Date posted

2 August 2018

09:25

Last updated

2 August 2018

A monument to commemorate Scotland's First World War poets is to be erected in Edinburgh's Makars' Court – and the public is to be asked whose words are to be etched onto the monument.

As we approach the centenary of the end of WW1, Scots will be asked to choose a quote to be inscribed on the monument via an online poll. Lines selected from six poems will be presented to the public to decide upon. While many know the works of war poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, Scotland's war poets are less well known and it is hoped that the poll will help raise awareness amongst Scots of their literary heritage.

The quotes were chosen by Lizzie MacGregor, editor of Beneath Troubled Skies – Poems of Scotland at War, 1914-1918 (Polygon), and include a soldier who died in the conflict, a woman, the author of the Para Handy stories and a Gael.

The poets are:

• David Mackie (1891-1956)
• Murchadh Moireach / Murdo Murray (1890-1964)
• Neil Munro (1864-1930)
• J.B. Salmond (1891-1956)
• J.E. Stewart (1889-1918)
• Mary Symon (1863-1938)

The online poll is launched by the Scottish Poetry Library on Thursday 2 August. The poll will run until Friday 17 August, with the result announced via the Scottish Poetry Library's website shortly after the poll concludes.

The monument will be unveiled at a special ceremony in mid-November. The quotation that gets the most votes will be chiselled onto a Celtic cross that incorporates in its design a pen. The cross will be the first standing monument in Makar's Court, where tributes are usually inscribed on paving slabs. The cross will be sited to the left of the entrance to the Writers Museum, a corner spot currently unoccupied.

Chair of War Poet’s Corner Committee Neil McLennan (University of Aberdeen) said: "As we approach the end of First World War Commemorations, poetic words and warnings of war will echo into another century. To help keep those words alive, some of them will now be etched in stone. This pertinent memorial is to those who powerfully captured the horrendous ‘war to end all wars.’ Sadly this has not been the case and so we must keep educating on historic conflicts and on Remembrance."

The memorial has been gifted by Dignity Funerals Ltd. Aberdeen Business Manager and member of War Poets Corner Scotland Committee Annette MacDonald said: "Dignity Funerals work closely to support our ex-servicemen and women and also honour and commemorate our fallen, so when Chair of War Poets Corner Committee Dr Neil McLennan asked for some assistance, Dignity Funerals  were privileged to be given the opportunity."

Asif Khan, Director of the SPL, said: "The poets of the First World War gave their testimony to the folly of armed conflict and laid bare the barbaric and heroic characteristics of humanity in equal measure. Around the world, soldiers, auxiliaries and civilians turned their experiences into verse, and Scotland was no exception. The six quotes chosen for the poll vividly illustrate the talent of these writers. The vividness with which they described their experiences echoes down the century to this day and is a source of comfort and inspiration for advocates of peace."

The project is a collaboration between City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh Napier University, University of Aberdeen, Dignity Funerals and the Scottish Poetry Library.

Wilfred's Walk