In the wake of the delayed but successful release of Fleeting Dreams: A Book of Poetry and Half-Tales, I wanted to thank all of you for following me on this journey! It has been a pleasure from start to finish, and I am so grateful for your support.
Over the next few posts here, I want share the work of the poets who have most influenced me during my writing process.
In truth, I am quite new to poetry. I have always enjoyed the wordplay and the technical skill involved, but only in recent years have I come to appreciate the impact that poetry can have on the willing heart. For a long time, I wanted to explore it a greater depth, but was intimidated by the prospect of the intellectual delving I assumed that would take. So while I procrastinated, poetry began to seep into me through a more subtle method; music.
Which leads me to the first poet I want to talk about …
I first became familiar with Francis Ledwidge through the music of Michael McGlynn, the composer for and leader of the choral group Anuna. McGlynn has put several of Ledwidge’s poems to music, and I was struck by the lonesome beauty that permeated the lyrics.
Francis Ledwidge was an Irish poet born in 1887. He began writing at quite an early age, having his work published in newspapers when he was only fourteen. Later on, his friendship with Lord Dunsay, a prominent writer of the time, gave Ledwidge the opportunity to publish his first book, Songs of the Fields, in 1915.
Ledwidge’s love for his native land is clear in his eloquent descriptions of the Irish countryside, wildlife there, and the passing of the seasons. He personified the months of August and May in two of my favorite poems of his.
Despite his initial opposition to Ireland’s involvement in World War I, Ledwidge enlisted and experienced the horror of war. His poem A Soldier’s Grave, paints a strangely beautiful and poignant portrait of a peaceful burial amidst the chaos of battle.
Ledwidge himself was later killed in the Battle of Passchendaele. The rest of his work, was published posthumously by his friend Lord Dunsay, allowing Ledwidge’s beautiful work to touch us to this day.
HOW IT HAS INFLUENCED ME
What I love most about Francis Ledwidge’s writing is his winsome sentiments and creative imagery. There is a wayward, earthy quality in his nature poems, and a lovelorn sense of solitude, a desire for companionship which resonates with me.
I wanted to capture that same quality in my writings, and I believe you can see this played out most strongly in my poems Elena and You and I. Elana speaks of the call of paradise, as it describes a woman whose attributes are akin to spring. You and I is an invitation of friendship, deep and true, and carries with it the love of nature and simple delights.
If you wish to experience Francis Ledwidge as I first did, I encourage you to listen to Anuna’s renditions of August, May, and A Soldier’s Grave.
Next time, we will visit another poet who fought in World War I, whose name I’m sure many of you know already, J.R.R. Tolkien.
See you then!