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Francis Ledwidge (1891-1917)

Behind the Closed Eye


              1I walk the old frequented ways
              2   That wind around the tangled braes,
              3I live again the sunny days
              4   Ere I the city knew.

              5And scenes of old again are born,
              6   The woodbine lassoing the thorn,
              7And drooping Ruth-like in the corn
              8   The poppies weep the dew.

              9Above me in their hundred schools
            10   The magpies bend their young to rules,
            11And like an apron full of jewels
            12   The dewy cobweb swings.

            13And frisking in the stream below
            14   The troutlets make the circles flow,
            15And the hungry crane doth watch them grow
            16   As a smoker does his rings.

            17Above me smokes the little town,
            18   With its whitewashed walls and roofs of brown
            19And its octagon spire toned smoothly down
            20   As the holy minds within.

            21And wondrous impudently sweet,
            22   Half of him passion, half conceit,
            23The blackbird calls adown the street
            24   Like the piper of Hamelin.

            25I hear him, and I feel the lure
            26   Drawing me back to the homely moor,
            27I'll go and close the mountain's door
            28   On the city's strife and din.

Notes

2] braes: riverside hillside.

7] An allusion to Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale":

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn.

23] According to Dunsany, p. 18, Ledwidge heard the blackbird sing "walking at evening through the village of Slane in summer" (18).

24] the piper of Hamelin: cf. Robert Browning's poem, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin: a Child's Story."


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Complete Poems of Francis Ledwidge, intro. by Lord Dunsany (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1919): 29-30. British Library 011649.g.88
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2001
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/21

Rhyme: aaab cccb ddde fffe ...


Other poems by Francis Ledwidge