Time at last to get rid of that default post and replace it with my own words! Starting out is always a little bit daunting but I’m going to begin with an Irish poet, Francis Ledwidge, taking inspiration from Carol Rumen’s excellent poetry blog. Given the context in which it was written it is undoubtedly a political poem, mourning the dead leaders of the 1916 Rising, but it is also a fine example of the Irish lyrical tradition of the lament. As one of the soldier poets who fell in WWI, Ledwidge’s verse carries an added poignancy and it is this sense of loss, rather than any political bravado, which I think emerges most strongly from the poem. A melancholy choice perhaps but there is hope too (“from the far dawn/Shall there come blackbirds loud with/Sweet echoes of the singers gone”).
Lament for the Poets: 1916
by Francis Ledwidge
I heard the Poor Old Woman say:
“At break of day the fowler came,
And took my blackbirds from their songs
Who loved me well thro’ shame and blame.
‘No more from lovely distances
Their songs shall bless me, mile by mile,
Nor to white Ashbourne call me down
To wear my crown another while.
“With bended flowers the angels mark
For the skylark the place they lie;
From there its little family
Shall dip their wings first in the sky.
“And when the first surprise of flight
Sweet songs excite, from the far dawn
Shall there come blackbirds loud with love,
Sweet echoes of the singers gone.
“But in the lovely hush of eve,
Weeping I grieve the silent bills,”
I heard the Poor Old Woman say
In Derry of the little hills.