' The human race is the only one that knows it must die and it knows this only through its experience. A child bought up alone and transported to a desert island would have no more idea of death than a cat or a plant .' - Voltaire
It is with sadness that I have heard of the passing of poet, playwright, doctor and novelist Dannie Abse at the age of 91.
Born and bought up in Cardiff, he drew on his career as a doctor, his Welsh roots and his proud jewish inheritance to establish himself as one of Britains most popular poets. Many of his themes were international in outlook, combining elements of loss, love, the passing of time, his rich medical understanding and its moral implications. This gave him a compassion for the suffering of the world. His awareness and humanity gave him a conscious awareness.
The brother of Labour M.P Leo Abse, much of his life was spent in loving devotion with his wife, Joan who tragically died in a car accident in 2005, and like many of us he struggled to deal with his grief, but managed to write elonquently a lovely collection called the 'the Presence' which won the Welsh book of the year award in 2008.
His two autobiographies 'Ash on a Young Man's sleeve' and 'Poet in the Family' are now rightly considered to be classics. I recognised his account of his medical training through my own fathers who was to become a G.P. Alongside a deep understanding of the world, ran an overwhelming sense of humour, awash with an experience of thought.. Like Dannie Abse I also undersood some of his themes of exile, he moving from Cardiff to London and personally me having at a very young age moved from Cardiff to here in West Wales.
There is a richness at the heart of his work that I will forever cherish, which I also know will continue to endure.I have been fortunate to hear him read on a few memorable occassions.
He died surrounded by his family after a short illness. The Welsh nation and the world has lost a truly great poet of real conviction.
Dannie Abse R.I.P
' What happens to a flame blown out?
What persists? Only the view,
never my my magified hand in yours.'
Dannie Abse's life and passions reflected in his work
Dannie Abse reading poems for Oxfam