The Gallipoli Association Homepage
Forum Home Forum Home > Research > Gallipoli in Art, Poetry, Song and Films/T.V. > Gallipoli Poetry/Poets
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - In memoriam Francis Ledwidge  by Seamus Heaney
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

The Gallipoli Association Forum

In memoriam Francis Ledwidge by Seamus Heaney

 Post Reply Post Reply
Author
Message
Mal Murray View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 22 Apr 2010
Location: Ireland
Status: Online
Points: 2358
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mal Murray Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: In memoriam Francis Ledwidge by Seamus Heaney
    Posted: 22 Aug 2014 at 14:03
I only came across this poem recently.

In memoriam Francis Ledwidge  by Seamus Heaney (1980)

The bronze soldier hitches a bronze cape
That crumples stiffly in imagined wind
No matter how the real winds buff and sweep
His sudden hunkering run, forever craned

Over Flanders. Helmet and haversack,
The gun’s firm slope from butt to bayonet,
The loyal, fallen names on the embossed plaque –
It all meant little to the worried pet

I was in nineteen forty-six or seven,
Gripping my Aunt Mary by the hand
Along the Portstewart prom, then round the crescent
To thread the Castle Walk out to the strand.

The pilot from Coleraine sailed to the coal-boat.
Courting couples rose out of the scooped dunes.
A farmer stripped to his studs and shiny waistcoat
Rolled the trousers down on his timid shins.

At night when coloured bulbs strung out the sea-front
Country voices rose from a cliff-top shelter
With news of a great litter – “we’ll pet the runt!” -
And barbed wire that had torn a friesian’s elder.

Francis Ledwidge, you courted at the seaside
Beyond Drogheda one Sunday afternoon.
Literary, sweet-talking, countrified,
You pedalled out the leafy road from Slane.

Where you belonged, among the dolorous
And lovely: the May altar of wild flowers,
Easter water sprinkled in outhouses,
Mass-rocks and hill-top raths and raftered byres.

I think of you in your Tommy’s uniform,
A haunted Catholic face, pallid and brave,
Ghosting the trenches with a bloom of hawthorn
Or silence cored from a Boyne passage-grave.

It’s summer, nineteen-fifteen. I see the girl
My aunt was then, herding on the long acre.
Behind a low bush in the Dardanelles
You suck stones to make your dry mouth water.

It’s nineteen-seventeen. She still herds cows,
But a big strafe puts the candles out in Ypres:
‘My soul is by the Boyne, cutting new meadows…
My country wears her confirmation dress.’

‘To be called a British soldier while my country
Has no place among nations…’ You were rent
By shrapnel six weeks later. ‘ I am sorry
That party politics should divide our tents.’

In you, our dead enigma, all the strains
Criss-cross in useless equilibrium
And as the wind tunes through this vigilant bronze
I hear again the sure confusing drum

You followed from Boyne water to the Balkans
But miss the twilit note your flute should sound.
You were not keyed or pitched like these true-blue ones
Though all of you consort now underground
To protect our history, we must secure it's future.
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 10.12
Copyright ©2001-2012 Web Wiz Ltd.