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We are all under the same stars

This weekend marks 104 years since the end of World War One, once hailed as The Great War, the War to End All Wars. Its toll was unprecedented and the scars it left on those who fought in it, those who lost loved ones, and those who had to pick up the pieces were immeasurable. This is a time for remembrance, for grief, for thanks and for cherishing those we still have around us, and the memories of those we have lost.

Over the years, the inhabitants of Carlowrie Castle have loved greatly, and have lost their fair share of loved ones. None have expressed their pain more movingly than Isobel Wylie Hutchison who lived through both World Wars. A writer, poet, explorer, botanist but also sister and daughter, by her early 20s, Isobel had lost her father and her two brothers. Frank to a mountaineering accident in the Cairngorms and her eldest brother Walter, a respected Captain, died in a tragic accident in North Berwick whilst leading a troop in training for the War.

Isobel carried a newspaper cutting of her brother Walter's obituary until her death in 1982. It was tucked into her much loved and used book, 'The Field-Club Flora of The Lothians

Isobel’s poem Liege expresses the insurmountable loss; it eloquently conveys the destruction, the horror of war; and it offers hope for salvation, for peace after the carnage, a comfort to those that grieve just as she herself grieved.


I knew

The star as my own

And the fields full-grown;

I looked at the wheat and said

‘At Liege the gold is red’

And to-night how still the dead must lie

With their faces stark to the open sky

Or dreadfully earthward turned’

Over the corn the wind mourned.

I looked at the star and cried,

‘Of Heaven the doors are very wide,

And God has hung a little light

For stragglers who fall in to-night’

Isobel Wylie Hutchison, 1914

Isobel draws comfort also from the sky above her, from the connection she perceives between her and her loved ones far away, united under the same sky so that none are alone. Her star is the same star that shines over the battlefields.

This sense of abstracted proximity has brought comfort to many parted loved ones over the centuries, whether they had been separated by life and death or by more mundane causes such as work commitments, university, illness. As we remember those we love, and those we have loved and lost, those who have made sacrifices for those they hold dear, look to the skies with the knowledge that no matter how great the distance, we are all under the same stars, the same moon, the same sky.


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The North Star Explorer

Learn more about Isobel’s passion for the natural world, her experience of travelling to remote places and her encounters expressed through art and creative writing.

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