Celia Duffin: Irish Woman Poet

Celia Duffin (1887-1983) was born in Belfast, one of six sisters whose father was a stockbroker. She published two volumes of poetry with her sister Ruth, The Secret Hill (1913) and Escape (1929), both of which were illustrated by a third sister, Emma. The Leaping Flame (1949) was published under her married name, Celia Randall. God’s Fool is taken from The Secret Hill.

He stumbles down the village street. They crook
Their fingers as he passes by,
And follow with disdainful eye,
His queer ungainly form and uncouth look.
Ah, men, your petty scorning spare,
He hath a greater cross to bear!
A woman turns from scoffing with the rest
To hush the little child that clings,
Affrighted, to her apron strings,
Or hides a little soft head on her breast.
Women, he too was fair of limb,
And once a mother prayed for him!
Ragged and queer and old, he comes alone,
But sometimes, with mysterious smile,
He mutters to himself the while,
Or stops to hold strange converse with a stone.
Ah, men, beware, lest you should curse
The Master of the universe.
He claims acquaintance with a leaf wind-blown,
Or bids good morrow to a toad;
So, far adown the dusty road
He stumbles forward into the unknown.
Have pity on his passing. He
Hath trod the road to Calvary.


One thought on “Celia Duffin: Irish Woman Poet

  1. Celia Duffin is as they say a discovery. An embarrassment even. The poem sticks in the mind as a lived experience where so many other verses of more modern pedigree have perished without a sigh. Despite the creaky framing device — which itself deserves some attention as a transcultural analogy– the vivacity of the details remains sharp and relevant.

    Liked by 1 person

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