Public asked to choose war quote for Edinburgh monument

The public are being asked to choose a quotation from six Scottish war poets to be etched on the first monument - a granite celtic cross - to be placed in Makars' Court in Edinburgh, beside the Writers' Museum.
Neil Munro, writer and creator of Para HandyNeil Munro, writer and creator of Para Handy
Neil Munro, writer and creator of Para Handy

The online poll being launched by the Scottish Poetry Library (SPL) today offers quotations chosen by Lizzie MacGregor, editor of ‘Beneath Troubled Skies – Poems of Scotland at War, 1914-1918’.

They include works from JE Stewart, a soldier killed at the Battle of Ypres in April 1918; Neil Munro, the author of the ‘Para Handy’ stories who was also a war correspondent and Mary Symon who wrote from the perspective of those left at home and the heartbreak of the bereaved.

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Also included are JB Salmond, a soldier suffering from shell-shock admitted to Craiglockhart hospital in Edinburgh, where he edited the hospital magazine, ‘The Hydra’ with Wilfred Owen, now regarded as one the greatest war poets, as his sub-editor; David Mackie, a journalist who was injured in war and became editor of ‘The Southern Reporter after the war, and Murchadh Moireach (Murdo Murray) from Back in Lewis who spent most of the war at the front.

War poet David Mackie (1891-1956)War poet David Mackie (1891-1956)
War poet David Mackie (1891-1956)

While war poets such as Owen and Siegfried Sassoon are well-known, experts believe it is time to highlight Scotland’s war poets.

The poll runs until 17 August with the result being announced on the SPL website

The Celtic Cross, which will incorporate a pen in its design, will be unveiled at a special ceremony in November.

The cross, the first standing monument in Makars’ Court where poetry is usually inscribed on paving stones, will be situated to the left of the entrance to the museum.

Dr Neil McLennan, senior lecturer in leadership development at the University of Aberdeen and chair of the war poet’s corner committee, said: “As we approach the end of First World War commemorations, poetic words and warnings of war will echo into another century.

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“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’.

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“Sadly this has not been the case and so we must keep educating on historic conflicts and on Remembrance.”

Asif Khan, SPL director, said that poets of the First World War “gave their testimony to the folly of armed conflict”.

“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.”

Annette MacDonald, Aberdeen business manager of Dignity Funerals who gifted the memorial, said: “Dignity Funerals work closely to support our ex-servicemen and women and also honour and commemorate the fallen. So when Dr McLennan asked for our assistance we were privileged to be given the opportunity.”

l Web address for the Celtic Cross war poetry inscription voting poll is