Stourhead, © National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

This summer silent walks will take place at twenty-three landscapes in the care of the National Trust across England & Wales. They are being held in remembrance of those affected by conflict, to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. At each walk a pair of representative poems will be read, and some poppy seeds scattered.

In time, this blog will document the commemorative walks. It will become active in late June 2014, when we will add the first posts describing walks in the South-west of England. Until then you can read the selected poems, along with biographies of the poets and a brief summary of each venue, by exploring the website. The walk venues range from The White Cliffs of Dover, Winston Churchill’s former home at Chartwell, and Dunham Massey, one of many country houses that were converted into troop hospitals during the First World War; while the featured poets include Alice Oswald, Pablo Neruda, Paul Celan and Mamhoud Darwish.

The philosophy of the project is guided by Hamish Henderson’s poem ‘End of a Campaign’, from his Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica, which bears witness to ‘our own’ and ‘the others’, suggesting that, unless we use our imaginative sympathy to reflect on those terms we will never come to terms with the pain, suffering and loss that conflict entails.

Alec Finlay, in collaboration with Ken Cockburn, Heather H. Yeung, and Luke Allan, 2014