On the 100th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme, we share the final instalment in our commemorative series of poignant poems, kindly provided by the Scottish Poetry Library. Predicting the coming waves of war tourism, poet J.E. Stewart indicates that the prospect of people visiting the battlefields feels too intrusive. But 100 years later, we do, and should, still visit the fields of battle in order never to forget what happened there.
The penultimate poem commemorating the Battle of the Somme provided by the Scottish Poetry Library describes that although the battlefields were a place of despair and death, wounded soldiers often had the desire to return.
The latest in our series of poems commemorating the Somme describes how weary soldiers would drag themselves to their living quarters after a spell at the front line.
It’s sometime in the 1920s and life in Scotland is going on just as normal – then something trips a memory, and it’s back ten years to the War… This is the scenario which is played out in our latest poem commemorating the Battle of the Somme, as poet JB Salmond recounts how his wartime memories would return to him during a mundane bus ride. He reflects on his comrades who lost their lives in the Battle of Flers-Courcelett, which was fought during the Somme 100 years this month.
In this fortnight’s Somme centenary commemoration poem, Hamish Mann revisits horrible remnants of previous battles on the same territory. In brutal yet honest wording, Mann depicts the horror of the physical reality and presence of death in the battlefields.
The latest in the series of poems commemorating the Somme is by Ewart Alan Mackintosh, about an inevitable preoccupation with death.
This fortnight’s Somme poem, selected and provided by the Scottish Poetry Library, is ‘Glory’ by Scots poet Violet Jacob, who lost her twenty-year-old son Harry in the battle. Written soon after his death and published in December of that year, the poem would surely have resonated with thousands of bereaved mothers across the country.
The second in our series of poems commemorating the Somme centenary is “War” by Jack Peterson, a Shetlander who was seriously wounded at the Battle of the Somme while serving with the Seaforth Highlanders. He survived the war and returned to Shetland, but his experiences from the war never left him, and fifty years later, he continued to recount the horrors in his work.
During the 141 day centenary of the Battle of the Somme, we will be featuring a collection of poems selected by the Scottish Poetry Library for their relevance and poignancy. On the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Somme, we are featuring “Lines Before Going” by Alexander Robertson, a Scottish academic-turned-soldier, who did not survive the day.