From A Little Book of Irish Verse

The Blackbirds

I heard the Poor Old Woman say:
'At break of day the fowler came,
And took my blackbirds from their songs
Who loved me well thro' shame and blame.

No more from lovely distances
Their songs shall bless me mile by mile,
Nor to white Ashbourne call me down
To wear my crown another while.


With bended flowers the angels mark
For the skylark the place they lie,
From there its little family
Shall dip their wings first in the sky.

And when the first surprise of flight
Sweet songs excite, from the far dawn
Shall there come blackbirds loud with love,
Sweet echoes of the singers gone.

But in the lonely hush of eve
Weeping I grieve the silent bills.'
I heard the Poor Old Woman say
In Derry of the little hills.


Francis Ledwidge
(1891-1917)



Blackbird
Turdus merula
Lon dubh

The male Blackbird's matt black plumage and striking orange-yellow bill are so distinctive that it requires no further description. The brownish female is sometimes mistaken for a thrush because of its pale and speckled throat but the differences are obvious from close range. The male Blackbird is one of Ireland's best song birds. Its song is deeper, with Iess repetition, than that of the Song Thrush, but is nonetheless similar. The alarm call is all excited squawk.