© Image by Caroline Forbes

Dannie Abse

(b. 1923)

"Who says the world is not a wedding?" - 'O Taste and See', Dannie Abse

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These poems come from a special recording for the Poetry Archive:

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Select bibliography

  • After Every Green Thing, London, Hutchinson, 1948 - out of print
  • Walking Under Water, Hutchinson, 1952 - out of print
  • Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve, Hutchinson, 1954 - out of print
  • Fire in Heaven, Hutchinson, 1956 - out of print
  • Some Corner of an English Field, Hutchinson, 1956 - out of print
  • Tenants of the House, Hutchinson, 1957, and New York, Criterion, 1959 - out of print
  • Mavericks (editor with Howard Sergeant), London, Editions Poetry and Poverty, 1957 - out of print
  • Poems, Golders Green, Hutchinson, 1962 - out of print
  • Poems! Dannie Abse: A Selection, London, Vista, 1963 - out of print
  • Modern European Verse (editor), London, Studio Vista, 1964 - out of print
  • A Small Desperation, Hutchinson, 1968 - out of print
  • O. Jones, O. Jones, Hutchinson, 1970 - out of print
  • Selected Poems, Hutchinson, 1970 - out of print
  • Poets of Wales, record, Argo, 1972 - no longer available
  • Funland and Other Poems, Hutchinson, 1973, and New York, Oxford University Press, 1973 - out of print
  • The Dogs of Pavlov, London, Vallantine, M., 1973 - out of print
  • A Poet in the Family, Hutchinson, 1974 - out of print
  • Penguin Modern Poets 26 (contributor with D. J. Enright and Michael Longley), London, Penguin, 1975 - out of print
  • Collected Poems 1948-1976, Hutchinson, 1977 and Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977 - out of print
  • Pythagoras, Hutchinson, 1979 - out of print
  • Way Out in the Centre, Hutchinson, 1981 and as One-Legged on Ice, Athens, University of Georgia Press, 1983 - out of print
  • A Strong Dose of Myself (essays), Hutchinson, 1983 - out of print
  • Poetry of Dannie Abse, Robson Books 1983
  • Dannie Abse, Audio Cassette, Canto, 1984 - no longer available
  • Dannie Abse, by Tony Curtis. University of Wales Press, 1985
  • Ask The Bloody Horse, Hutchinson, 1986 and as Sky in Narrow Streets, Princeton, Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Series, 1986 - out of print
  • Journals from the Ant Heap, Hutchinson, 1986 - out of print
  • Voices in the Gallery (editor with Joan Abse), London, Tate Gallery Publications, 1986 - out of print
  • The Music Lover's Literary Companion (editor with Joan Abse), London, Robson, 1988 - out of print
  • White Coat, Purple Coat: Collected Poems 1948-1988, Hutchinson, 1989 and New York, Persea, 1990 - out of print
  • The Hutchinson Book of Post-War British Poetry (editor), Hutchinson, 1989 - out of print
  • Remembrance of Crimes Past, Hutchinson, 1990 and Persea, 1991 - out of print
  • There Was A Young Man From Cardiff, Hutchinson, 1991 - out of print
  • On the Evening Road, Hutchinson, 1994 - out of print
  • Selected Poems, Penguin, 1994 - out of print
  • The Gregory Anthology 1991-1993 (editor with A. Stevenson), London, Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994
  • Intermittent Journals, Bridgend, Wales, Seren, 1994
  • Welsh Retrospective; a selection, Seren, 1997
  • Twentieth Century Anglo-Welsh Poetry (editor), Seren, 1997
  • Arcadia, One Mile, Hutchinson, 1998 - out of print
  • Be Seated Thou: Poems 1989-1998, New York, Sheep Meadow Press, 2000
  • Goodbye, Twentieth Century (autobiography), London, Pimlico, 2001
  • Encounters (translator), London, Hearing Eye, 2001
  • Touch Wood: Poems and a Story, Gwynedd, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2002
  • New and Collected Poems, Hutchinson, 2003
  • The Two Roads Taken (prose miscellany), London, Enitharmon, 2003
  • The Yellow Bird, Sheep Meadow Press, 2004
  • Homage to Eros: 100 Great Poems of Love and Lust(editor), Robson Books Ltd., 2005
  • Dannie Abse Reading from his poems, CD, The Poetry Archive, 2005
  • Running Late, Hutchinson, 2006
  • 100 Great Poems of Love and Lust, Anova Books 2007
  • The Presence, Vintage 2008
  • New Selected Poems Arrow Books Ltd 2009
Dannie Abse (b. 1923) is a poet, playwright and novelist whose literary career spans half a century, the first of his fourteen collections of poetry, After Every Green Thing, being published in 1948, his latest collected appearing in 2003. In between Abse has established himself as one of Britain's leading and most popular poets. Brought up in Cardiff, Abse draws on both his Welsh roots and Jewish inheritance but is above all famous for combining the twin careers of author and doctor. The influence of the latter on the former is considerable and has helped develop his unique identity in British poetry.

This recording begins with an early poem, 'Epithalamion', in which Abse's characteristic concerns can already be heard in the repeated refrain "all the living and all the dead." Most poets have an acute sense of mortality but Abse's professional life as a doctor gives him a more precise and intimate perspective (and vocabulary) than most. His explicitly "medical" poems reveal both his clear-eyed knowledge and his compassion for the suffering and dying, a combination that runs through all his work and makes his poetry appealing despite its often dark subject matter. The 'Pathology of Colours' for example is precise in its examination of the varying hues of disease without being clinical, unflinching without being morbid. His work also acknowledges the mystery at the heart of life and its ending as in his haunting poem 'In the theatre' which chronicles the death of a patient during brain surgery. There are no easy consolations in Abse's work, however his alertness to "those bright/truant things that will not keep" ('O Taste and See') sounds a note of sober celebration.

This recording brings out the more dramatic qualities of Abse's verse, particularly his use of dialogue and the snatches of speech scattered through his poems which connect the listener to lost communities. The recording ends with 'Last Words' a poem that movingly complements the opening celebration of marriage, and which is made all the more powerful by the warm mahogany timbre of Abse's voice.

His recording was made on 17 August 2001 at the poet's home in London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Dannie Abse's Favourite Poetry Sayings:

"Chance favours the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur on inspiration

"We are only undefeated because we go on trying." - T. S. Eliot


1970 Arts Council of Wales Literature Award, Selected Poems

1970 Jewish Chronicle Book Award, Selected Poems

1979 Arts Council of Wales Literature Award, Pythagorus

1985 Cholmondeley Award

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