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Selected Poetry of Francis Ledwidge (1891-1917)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

Green ripples singing down the corn,
With blossoms dumb the path I tread,
And in the music of the morn
One with wild roses on her head.
        (Spring and Autumn, 1-4)
  1. Behind the Closed Eye
  2. June
  3. Soliloquy
  4. Spring and Autumn


Notes on Life and Works

Born on August 19, 1891, in Slane, Ireland, Francis Ledwidge left school when twelve years old to work on a farm, on the roads, and in the mines. Before he entered World War I in October 1914 in the 5th battalion of the Royal Inniskillings, Ledwidge published verse in the Drogheda Independent. He acted as secretary of a farm workers' union in Meath and then insurance commissioner for Navan county. As early as 1912, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Lord Dunsany, had assisted him to get his poetry recognized. Ledwidge brought out his first volume of poems, Songs of the Field, in 1915, the year he fought at Gallipoli, Salonika, and Vardar, and a second volume, Songs of Peace, the next year, when he returned to England on a leave. Ledwidge then fought at the Somme in France and was killed by an exploding shell in Boesinghe, Belgium, on July 31, 1917. Lord Dunsany wrote a preface to Ledwidge's last two volumes, Last Songs (1918) and Complete Poems (1919).

Biographical information

Given name: Francis
Family name: Ledwidge
Birth date: 19 August 1891
Death date: 31 July 1917
Nationality: Irish
Family relations
          father: Patrick Ledwidge
          mother: Annie Ledwidge
Education: Slane national school to 1903
Literary period: Georgian
Occupations
          Ganger on the roads
          Copper-miner
          Overseer of roads
          Secretary of the county Meath farm labourers' union
          Lance-corporal: 1915
Residence: Slane: 1891
Cause of death: War casualty
First RPO edition: 2001