Poems written in 1917
The Dead Kings
All the dead kings came to me
At Rosnaree, where I was dreaming,
A few stars glimmered through the morn,
And down the thorn the dews were streaming.
And every dead king had a story
Of ancient glory, sweetly told.
It was too early for the lark,
But the starry dark had tints of gold.
I listened to the sorrows three
Of that Eire passed into song.
A cock crowed near a hazel croft,
And up aloft dim larks winged strong.
And I, too, told the kings a story
Of later glory, her fourth sorrow:
There was a sound like moving shields
In high green fields and the lowland furrow.
And one said: ‘We who yet are kings
Have heard these things lamenting inly.’
Sweet music flowed from many a bill
And on the hill the morn stood queenly.
And one said: ‘Over is the singing,
And bell bough ringing, whence we come;
With heavy hearts we’ll tread the shadows,
In honey meadows birds are dumb.’
And one said: ‘Since the poets perished
And all they cherished in the way,
Their thoughts unsung, like petal showers
Inflame the hours of blue and grey.’
And one said: ‘A loud tramp of men
We’ll hear again at Rosnaree.’
A bomb burst near me where I lay.
I woke, ’twas day in Picardy.
Francis Edward Ledwidge was an Irish war poet from County Meath in Ireland.
Sometimes known as the "poet of the blackbirds".
He was killed in action at the Battle of Paschendaele in 1917.