Poetry in the woods provides lasting WW1 memorial

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It has almost become a cliché, you might think, WW1 and poetry. Yet an initiative in West Yorkshire’s Colne Valley has come up with a fresh take on that link with a durable memorial to remind future generations of that war, and its effects on the casualties’ home communities.

The Trees in Mind project has created a trail of poetry plaques (pictured) - funded by Heritage Lottery Fund – running through local villages from Milnsbridge to a WW1 memorial woodland above Marsden’s Butterley reservoir. The plaques contain fragments of poems specially written for the trail by attendees of poetry writing workshops established by project organisers Zana Wood and Jean Margetts, supported by local funders and individual volunteers.

Planted by Colne Valley Tree Society in 2015, each of 527 young oaks represents a Colne Valley WW1 casualty. The oaks are planted alongside groups of alder, rowan and scots pine, each group representing the community from which the casualties came. As they mature, the Woodland Trust-donated trees can be appreciated by future generations using a special walkway provided by the project. 

A ‘sweet and fitting’ souvenir perhaps, considering Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est and the trees’ capacity to protect our lungs from the deleterious effects of greenhouse gas. 

The trail was due to be officially launched in a day-long walk on Saturday 9 November, taking in each village’s war memorial and the poetry plaques as it winds its way up the valley.

More information from the project's Facebook page.


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