Words and pictures poetry challenge: 1

I have finally decided to start a new series of prompts, lines from poetry interspersed with paintings. I’ll try to make this a regular Wednesday challenge.

The poet I have a chosen is one for whom I have a special affection, Francis Ledwidge, the poet of the blackbirds. He was born at Baile Shinéad (Janeville) in County Meath and killed at Passchendaele 1917 when he was 29.

My father, who was a poet, introduced me to Ledwidge and claimed some family link. Certainly my father’s mother and my mother’s grandfather both came from the Dunboyne area, about twenty miles from Baile Shinéad, and of course, that is my name, so why not a link? Ledwidge even looked rather like my dad.


This is his most well known poem, written for Thomas McDonagh, poet, patriot and political activist, on hearing of his execution for his part in the Easter Rising.



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.


For the challenge, I propose choosing three key words from the poem, words that strike you in particular, and use them as the end of line words in a tritina, inspired by Ledwidge’s poem. The exact rules of engagement with the tritina are here. If you want to join in, just leave a link to your poem in the comments before next Tuesday when I’ll post them all.

The words I have chosen are: sky, rain, slanting.


Lost bird


I watched a bird’s flight cut across the sky,

Above the blowy trees and through the rain;

A path it made though all the world was slanting.

What kilter was is gone, the world is slanting,

And oceans pour to drown the watered sky,

Their feathers floating through the bird-fish rain.

You are not here to join me in the rain,

To hold me when I slip; the slope is slanting,

Sliding after bird gone in the sky,


The feathered, clouded sky where rain is slanting.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

39 thoughts on “Words and pictures poetry challenge: 1”

  1. Beautiful, poignant poem–all that world-slanting and feathers again. I’m going to have to ponder a bit for this challenge. I’m pleased you decided to do it again.
    (I feel stupid for not knowing that Shinéad means Jane. I guess you got all the Irish lore. 😏)

    1. Sinéad is the nominative form. Shinéad is after lenition, the sound of the first syllable changes from Shinayd to Hinayd. Irish is complicated like that. One reason I’ve never mastered it!
      I love his poems. So simple and lyrical and full of love of his home. And there’s no reason at all you didn’t know it means Jane 🙂
      I love his poetry, so simple and lyrical and full of love of his home. I hope you give it a try.

  2. The storytelling about the poet and about your family is told straightforwardly, but I found it moving. Ledwidge’s poem is true and sad in mourning with a supernal twist at the end. Your poem defines disorientation in a striking way. I am daunted to consider flying through the slanting rain like the bird.

    1. I’m glad you like the poem (Ledwdige’s). He had an interesting life for a poor farm boy, signed up to fight after speaking at meetings denouncing the war (he was a Socialist and Nationalist) after his sweetheart married another man. He spent the war writing poems about how he missed the cows in the fields. The longing for home drove him to depression.

    1. Just read it. It’s lovely. I know what you mean about it being a difficult form. It’s one you have to think about in a different way to a standard rhyming poem. It is a bit like a bird, elusive.

      1. It’s what you need at the moment 🙂
        Actually, they make it sound as if we’ve all been dumped in solitary confinement in Alcatraz. It’s just staying at home for God’s sake…

    1. I stopped it Colleen when my computer started playing up and I stopped all blogging for about a month. If I restart (when I get a reliable computer) I’ll let you know.
      Thanks for thinking of me 🙂

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