Francis Ledwidge Biography
(1891–1917), Songs of the Fields, Songs of the Peace, Last Songs, Complete Poems
Irish poet, born in Slane, Co. Meath; he received elementary education and worked as a copper miner and an overseer of roadworks for the local council. Despite his strong nationalist sympathies, he joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers soon after the outbreak of the First World War, partly out of disappointment in love, and was killed on the Western Front. A number of his poems express regret that he was unable to participate in the Easter Rising of 1916. In 1912 he sent some of his verses to Lord Dunsany, whose patronage secured the publication of Songs of the Fields (1915) and Songs of the Peace (1917); Dunsany also produced the posthumous Last Songs (1918) and Complete Poems (1919). Many of Ledwidge's poems form contemplative and precisely observed treatments of the landscapes around Slane, which also serve as the setting for his distinguished love poems. His work was featured in Georgian Poetry: 1913–1915 (1915). Themes from Irish legend and motifs from classical mythology entered his verse after his introduction to Dublin's literary milieu. His later work exhibits a deepening preoccupation with religious experience. Complete Poems (1974) was edited by Alice Curtayne, whose biography of Ledwidge appeared in 1972.