Francis Ledwidge

The Poet of the Blackbirds

Today is the anniversary of the death of the Irish war poet and soldier Francis Ledwidge.
Francis grew up in the Irish countryside. When he became a writer, he established himself as the "poet of the blackbirds." Francis was killed in action during World War I at the Battle of Passchendaele.

"When the clouds shake their hyssops and the rain
Like holy water falls upon the plain,
'Tis sweet to gaze upon the springing grain
And see your harvest born.
And sweet the little breeze of melody
The blackbird puffs upon the budding tree,
While the wild poppy lights upon the lea
And blazes 'mid the corn."
— Francis Ledwidge, A Rainy Day in April


"Broom out the floor now, lay the fender by,
And plant this bee-sucked bough of woodbine there,
And let the window down. The butterfly
Floats in upon the sunbeam, and the fair
Tanned face of June, the nomad gypsy, laughs
Above her widespread wares, the while she tells
The farmer's fortunes in the fields, and quaffs
The water from the spider-peopled wells.

The hedges are all drowned in green grass seas,
And bobbing poppies flare like Elmo's light
While siren-like the pollen-stained bees
Drone in the clover depths. And up the height
The cuckoo's voice is hoarse and broke with joy.
And on the lowland crops, the crows make raid,
Nor fear the clappers of the farmer's boy,
Who sleeps, like drunken Noah, in the shade.
And loop this red rose in that hazel ring
That snares your little ear, for June is short 
And we must joy in it and dance and sing,
And from her bounty draw her rosy worth.
Ay! soon the swallows will be flying south,
The wind wheel north to gather in the snow
Even the roses spilt on youth's red mouth
Will soon blow down the road all roses go."
— Francis Ledwidge, June

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Francis Ledwidge
Francis Ledwidge

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