The Lost Generation : World War I Poetry : Francis Ledwidge

Cover of Ledwidge's Songs of Peace


Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917) was born in Slane, a small town 30 miles north of Dublin, and died in the Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium in 1917. Ledwidge supported the movement for Irish home rule before enlisting in Lord Dunsany's army regiment in 1914. The poems collected here, published in the last year of Ledwidge’s life and introduced by Dunsany, are organized in categories that reflect Ledwidge’s experience of the war—“In Barracks,” “In Camp,” “At Sea,” “In Serbia,” “In Greece,” “In Hospital in Egypt,” and “In Barracks” a second time. The poems themselves, however, have very little to say about the war, instead focusing on Irish locales like “heights of Crockaharna” (a rock formation near Slane) or Crewbawn (an Irish town on the River Boyne), but more often on old desires, lost loves, distant bird songs, and the drone of a night beetle’s wings. The surreal, abstract imagery of the poems jars with the concrete wartime locations of the headings. The result is ominous and unsettling, a strained peace embedded in the experience of war. 

Find Songs of Peace in the UNT Library Catalog.