Denis Devlin was born on April 15, 1908, in Greenock, Scotland, of Irish parents. Admired by Beckett, his books are First Poems (1930); Intercessions (1937); Lough Derg and Other Poems (1946) and his posthumous Selected Poems (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963). The Complete Poems of Dennis Devlin, edited with an introduction by Brian Coffey, was published in the University Review, Dublin, Volume III, number 5.

He joined the Irish Diplomatic Service in 1935 and spent a number of years in Rome, New York, and Washington. During this time he met the French poet St. John Perse, and the Americans Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren.

His personal papers are held in University College Dublin Archives.

His Collected Poems, edited by J.C.C. Mays, is published by The Dedalus Press, Dublin. He died in Dublin in 1959.

A poem by Denis Devlin


“Our saints are poets, Milton and Blake,
Who would rib men with pride against the spite
Of God,” the Englishman said, and in the silence
Hatred sparkled along our bones. He said:
“Celt, your saints adorn the poor with roses
And praise God for standing still.”

Between the two of us, François from Touraine,
Where women and the wheat ripen and fall due
Suavely at evening, smiled, teasing the breadcrumbs.
He whispered: “Patience; listen to the world’s
Growth, resulting in fire and childlike water!”

And I: “Milton and Marvell, like the toady, Horace,
Praised the men of power for the good
They happened on, with bible and sword; the wretched
Hold out their begging-bowls at the wooden gates,
Too poor to weep, too poor to weep with tears.”

Boxflower scent. Fumes of burgundy
Nagging children at the tables
A dream’s remove from their fathers smoking
Along the boulevard laid with yellow evening.