Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Francis Ledwidge on poetry, war and his childhood

"..... my best is not yet written. I mean to do something really great if I am spared, but out here one may at any moment be hurled beyond Life."

So wrote Francis Ledwidge in an extraordinary letter from the trenches written a month before his death in World War One.

In the letter he talks of why he, an Irish nationalist, joined the British Army: "I joined the British Army because she stood between Ireland and an enemy common to our civilization, and I would not have her say that she defended us while we did nothing at home but pass resolutions."

He writes beautifully about his early shyness: "I have always been very quiet and bashful and a great mystery in my own place. I avoided the evening play of neighbouring children to find some secret place in a wood by the Boyne and there imagine fairy dances and hunts, fires and feasts. I saw curious shapes in shadows and clouds and loved to watch the change of the leaves and the flowers, I heard voices in the rain and the wind and strange whisperings in the waters."

And he tells us something of how he writes: "Of myself. I am a fast writer and very prolific. I have long silences, often for weeks, then the mood comes over me, and I must write and write no matter where I be or what the circumstances are. I do my best work in Spring. I have had many disappointments in life and many sorrows, but in my saddest moment song came to me and 1 sang. I get more pleasure from a good line than from a big cheque."

The letter was included in Legends of the Boyne and Selected Prose of Francis Ledwidge- edited by Liam O Meara and is reproduced on the dublin.ie forum. To read it, click this link and stroll down the page, past the picture of Ledwidge.

1 comment:

l_omeara said...

Good to get some feedback. You should check out the Inchicore Ledwidge Society facebook page. Our Ledwidge Day commemoration will be on the 31st July at the War Memorial Gardens Islandbridge 12 noon.