Abse, Dannie

Abse, Dannie: British pulmonary physician and poet. Abse was born in 1923 in Cardiff, Wales to a Jewish family. He studied medicine first in Wales and then at King’s College, London. He published his first collection of poetry in 1948 and qualified as a physician in 1950. Since then he has continued to combine his careers as a physician and writer, aspects of his life that, together with his Jewish and Welsh background, are integral themes in his poetry. Dr. Abse makes an emblem of the white coat for the scientist/doctor and the purple coat for the poet. This concept is so important for him that it is the title of his collected poems: “White Coat, Purple Coat: Collected Poems 1948-1989.”

A sample of Abse’s poetry follows:

Today, an x-ray on this oblong light
Clear that was not clear. No pneumothorax,
No deforming thoracoplasty. No flaw.
The patient nods, accepts it as his right.

From “Tuberculosis”
By Dannie Abse

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