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Short poem

Francis Ledwidge (1891-1917)


              1When I was young I had a care
              2Lest I should cheat me of my share
              3Of that which makes it sweet to strive
              4For life, and dying still survive,
              5A name in sunshine written higher
              6Than lark or poet dare aspire.

              7But I grew weary doing well.
              8Besides, 'twas sweeter in that hell,
              9Down with the loud banditti people
            10Who robbed the orchards, climbed the steeple
            11For jackdaws' eyes and made the cock
            12Crow ere 'twas daylight on the clock.
            13I was so very bad the neighbours
            14Spoke of me at their daily labours.

            15And now I'm drinking wine in France,
            16The helpless child of circumstance.
            17To-morrow will be loud with war,
            18How will I be accounted for?

            19It is too late now to retrieve
            20A fallen dream, too late to grieve
            21A name unmade, but not too late
            22To thank the gods for what is great;
            23A keen-edged sword, a soldier's heart,
            24Is greater than a poet's art.
            25And greater than a poet's fame
            26A little grave that has no name.

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): 259-60. British Library 011649.g.88
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2001
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/21

Form: couplets

Other poems by Francis Ledwidge