A forgotten blackbird?

John Quinn reflects on the legacy of Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917)

EXTRACT:

In you, our dead enigma, all the strains Criss-cross in useless equilibrium—(In memoriam Francis Ledwidge)

In these lines Seamus Heaney catches the essence of the soldier-poet Francis Ledwidge, the centenary of whose death occurs on 31 July. For many, Ledwidge has remained an enigma: the boy with only a basic education who became a much-loved poet; the nationalist and Irish Volunteer who fought with the British Army in World War I; the soldier who endured three years of war’s horrors in Gallipoli, Serbia and France but never wrote about that in his poetry.

Heaney argues that Ledwidge showed ‘a certain visionary, noble, moral side to his nature’ when he declared: ‘I joined the British Army because she stood between Ireland and an enemy common to our civilisation and I would not have her say that she defended us while we did nothing at home but pass resolutions’. […]

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July/August 2017 (issue no.374) 


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