A Gift From Dannie Abse

The poet, author, doctor and playwright Dannie Abse, who died in September 2014, was a long-standing contributor to Jewish Quarterly. We will miss him and his words. Here is the first poem he wrote for us, ‘Failure’. Published in Volume 1, Issue 1, 1953:

Failure, by Dannie Abse


Writing should be dedicated living, and ordinary heroes go


torn like bits of poems, bits of voices into the wind.

I should be vocal for all the dumb ; for the homeless be home,

for the hunted be shelter. Oh make this ink a land.


I should be forever new and tum towards them with pure surprise,

endow the lonely with gifts far lovelier than this look,

and cage their ragged shadows in my eyes

that fly down tearward. But only ghosts people this book.


Humanity, the earth is richer where you stand.

So I wish myself imagined, a young legendary sage

·possessed with worlds of blood and flesh, not this faltering hand

that limps in pain and poverty over each uncreated page.


Hear Dannie Abse read his poem ‘Last Words’

Click here to read other poems featured on Jewish Quarterly

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