Thomas MacDonagh

HE shall not hear the bittern cry
In the wild sky, where he is lain,
Nor voices of the sweeter birds
Above the wailing of the rain.

Nor shall he know when loud March blows
Thro' slanting snows her fanfare shrill,
Blowing to flame the golden cup
Of many an upset daffodil.

But when the Dark Cow leaves the moor,
And pastures poor with greedy weeds,
Perhaps he'll hear her low at morn
Lifting her horn in pleasant meads.

Francis Ledwidge(1887-1917)

Francis Ledwidge, was a self-taught Irish poet and in his poem Thomas MacDonagh he commemorates the death of a well educated and mild mannered young man who was put to death during the Easter Rebellion of 1916 in Dublin. Published in 1917 in a collection titled Songs of the Fields, you might be interested in knowing Yeats also memorialized his death in his poem Easter 1916:
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.

It's obvious that these three men, Yeats, Ludwig and Macdough, knew each other and Thomas was highly thought of. The poem is primarily a lament-- Ludwig was wounded in a military hospital, when he first heard the news of the Easter Uprising and the executions that followed. He had to be a bit more cautious and low key with his piece than Yeats was because at the time he composed it he was a member of the regiment that was part of the same army that shot Thomas MacDonagh. Ludwig was killed in action in Belgium, France in 1917 during the first World War at the age of 29.


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Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner:

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