Francis Edward Ledwidge, "To the One Dead"

Francis Ledwidge (1887–1917) came of a poor family from Slane, County Meath. He had no formal education after the age of twelve, and worked as a navy laborer while educating himself through reading and writing. He was active in trade unions and the local rural council, and joined the Slane Corps of the Irish Volunteers. Lord Dunsany, who owned much of the land around Slane, assisted Ledwidge in publishing a volume of verse, and his poems were included in the Georgian Anthology. Though a firm nationalist, he joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers soon after the start of the First World War, to fight those he perceived as a common enemy. In June 1915 he was sent to Gallipoli and saw action in Lemnos and Serbia. He had returned to Ireland on sick leave at the time of the Easter Rising in 1916, and was deeply distressed to learn of the execution of former comrades by his present comrades. He returned to the Western Front in April 1917, where he was killed by a shell. His second volume of poetry was published three months after his death.

 

"To the One Dead".

Seamus Heaney's memoriam for Ledwidge, "Killed in France 31 July 1917".

Yeats's poem "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death".


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