Daniel Abse, CBE FRSL (22 September 1923– 28 September 2014) was a Welsh poet.
Abse was born in Cardiff, Wales, to a Jewish family. He was the younger brother of politician and reformer Leo Abse and the eminent psychoanalyst, Wilfred Abse. Unusually for a middle-class Jewish boy, Dannie Abse attended St Illtyd’s College, a working-class Catholic school in Splott. Abse studied medicine, first at the University of Wales College of Medicine, and then at Westminster Hospital Medical School and King’s College London.
Abse was a passionate supporter of Cardiff City football club. He first went to watch them play in 1934 and many of his writings refer to his experiences watching and lifelong love of the team known as the “The Bluebirds”.
Career as poet
Although best known as a poet, Abse worked in the medical field, and was a physician in a chest clinic for over thirty years. He received numerous literary awards and fellowships for his writing. In 1989, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Wales.
His first volume of poetry, After Every Green Thing, was published in 1949. His autobiographic work, Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve, was published in 1954. He won the Welsh Arts Council Award in both 1971 and 1987, and the Cholmondeley Award in 1985. He was a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature from 1983. In a foreword to Collected Poems 1948–1976, Abse noted that his poems are increasingly “rooted in actual experience,” both domestic and professional, and many display a reconciliation between Jewish and Welsh themes and traditions.
Abse lived for several decades in the north-west area of London, mainly near Hampstead, where he has considerable ties. For several years he wrote a column for the Hampstead and Highgate Express, the local newspaper. These articles were subsequently published in book form.
In 2005, his wife Joan Abse was killed in a car accident, while Abse suffered a broken rib. His poetry collection, Running Late, was published in 2006, and The Presence, a memoir of the year after his wife died, was published in 2007; it won the 2008 Wales Book of the Year award. The book was later dramatised for BBC Radio 4. He was awarded the Roland Mathias prize for Running Late.
In 2009 Abse brought out a volume of collected poetry. In the same year, he received the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award. Abse was a judge for the inaugural 2010 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. Abse was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to poetry and literature.
Dannie Abse died on 28 September 2014, aged 91.
After Every Green Thing Hutchinson, 1948
Walking Under Water Hutchinson, 1952
Fire in Heaven Hutchinson, 1956
Mavericks: An Anthology (editor with Howard Sergeant) Editions Poetry and Poverty, 1957
Tenants of the House: Poems 1951–1956 Hutchinson, 1957
Poems, Golders Green Hutchinson, 1962
Poems! Dannie Abse: A Selection Vista/Dufour, 1963
Modern European Verse (editor) Vista, 1964
Medicine on Trial Aldus, 1967
Three Questor Plays Scorpion, 1967
A Small Desperation Hutchinson, 1968
Demo Sceptre, 1969
Selected Poems Hutchinson, 1970
Modern Poets in Focus 1 (editor) Corgi, 1971
Modern Poets in Focus 3 (editor) Corgi, 1971
Thirteen Poets (editor) Poetry Book Society, 1972
Funland and Other Poems Hutchinson, 1973
Modern Poets in Focus 5 (editor) Corgi, 1973
The Dogs of Pavlov Vallentine, Mitchell, 1973
A Poet in the Family Hutchinson, 1974
Penguin Modern Poets 26 (Dannie Abse, D. J. Enright and Michael Longley) Penguin, 1975
Collected Poems 1948–1976 Hutchinson, 1977
More Words BBC, 1977
My Medical School Robson, 1978
Pythagoras Hutchinson, 1979
Way Out in the Centre Hutchinson, 1981
A Strong Dose of Myself Hutchinson, 1983
One-legged on ice: poems University of Georgia Press, 1983
Doctors and Patients (editor) Oxford University Press, 1984
Ask the Bloody Horse Hutchinson, 1986
Journals From the Ant Heap Hutchinson, 1986
Voices in the Gallery: Poems and Pictures (editor with Joan Abse) Tate Gallery, 1986
The Music Lover’s Literary Companion (editor with Joan Abse) Robson, 1988
The Hutchinson Book of Post-War British Poetry (editor) Hutchinson, 1989
White Coat, Purple Coat: Collected Poems 1948–1988 Hutchinson, 1989
People (contributor) National Language Unit of Wales, 1990
Remembrance of Crimes Past: Poems 1986–1989 Hutchinson, 1990
The View from Row G: Three Plays Seren, 1990
Intermittent Journals Seren, 1994
On the Evening Road Hutchinson, 1994
Selected Poems Penguin, 1994
The Gregory Anthology 1991–1993 (editor with A. Stevenson) Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994
Twentieth-Century Anglo-Welsh Poetry (editor) Seren, 1997
Welsh Retrospective Seren, 1997
Arcadia, One Mile Hutchinson, 1998
Be seated, thou: poems 1989–1998 Sheep Meadow Press, 1999
Encounters Hearing Eye, 2001
Goodbye, Twentieth Century: An Autobiography Pimlico, 2001
New and Collected Poems Hutchinson, 2002
The Two Roads Taken: A Prose Miscellany Enitharmon Press, 2003
Yellow Bird Sheep Meadow Press, 2004
Running Late Hutchinson, 2006
100 Great Poems of Love and Lust: Homage to Eros (compiler and editor) Robson, 2007
The Presence Hutchinson, 2007
New Selected Poems 1949–2009: Anniversary Collection Hutchinson, 2009 (shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry)
Speak, Old Parrot Hutchinson, 2013
Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve (Hutchinson, 1954)
Some Corner of an English Field (Hutchinson, 1956)
O Jones, O Jones (Hutchinson, 1970)
There Was A Young Man From Cardiff (Hutchinson, 1991)
The Strange Case of Dr Simmonds & Dr Glas (Robson, 2002)