A Robin on a Broken Tree

This is a song a robin sang
This morning on a broken tree
It was about the little fields
That call across the world to me.

Francis Ledwidge, 1897 – 1917.

These lines were written a few weeks before Tuesday the 31st of July 1917. That was the day the poor bloody British and French infantry went over the top to launch the Third Battle of Ypres, perhaps better known as the Battle of Passchendaele.

That first gallant charge followed a week during which 3000 heavy guns had fired over 4 million shells at the German lines. Sometime before the artillery barrage began the poet heard the song of a bird. Looking around the landscape of death he spotted a robin redbreast on the broken branch of a broken tree. The poignant sound of the robin inspired him to write the poem, Home, from which these four lines are taken.

Francis Ledwidge was killed on that first day as was Hedd Wyn, one of the best–known poets of Wales.

We have no account of what happened to the robin...


That poem and especially the four lines above inspired a new play. Written by Dermot Bolger it was performed in Dublin to mark the 90th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Cymraeg / Welsh

Two Poets, One War Grave...

Dau Fardd, un Fynwent Filwrol...

Dhá Fhile, Aon Reilig Amháin

Ar Goeden Friw

The Burial of My Mother

The Poetry of Things

All Creatures...

Home