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Contents

About the Book

About the Author

Also by Dannie Abse

Title Page

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Author’s note

First Meeting

Sloppy Love Poem

The Moment

Proposal

Epithalamion

Phew!

First Baby

Verses at Night

Who?

Photograph and White Tulips

A Night Out

A Doctor’s Love Song

A Note Left on the Mantelpiece

Flowers

Sons

Imitations

Anniversary

A Touch of Snow

The Cure

White Balloon

Ants

Domestic, 3 a.m.

Thankyou Note

Condensation on a Windowpane

An Interrupted Letter

Last Words

New Granddaughter

Inscription on the Flyleaf of a Bible

A Marriage

The Malham Bird

In My Fashion

A Scene from Married Life

Yesterday’s Tiff

The Runners

Two for Joy

With Compliments

Just a Moment

Lachrymae

Postcard to His Wife

Now and Then

After the Memorial

Portrait of an Old Poet

The Revisit

Magnolia

On Parole

The Violin Player

Letters

Like

The Presence

Postscript

Copyright

Two for Joy

Scenes from Married Life

Dannie Abse

By the same author

Poetry

Walking Under Water

Tenants of the House

Poems, Golders Green

A Small Desperation

Funland and Other Poems

Collected Poems 1948–1976

Way Out in the Centre

Ask the Bloody Horse

White Coat, Purple Coat: Poems 1948–1988

Remembrance of Crimes Past

On the Evening Road

Arcadia, One Mile

New and Collected Poems

Running Late

New Selected Poems, 1949–2009

Editor

The Hutchinson Book of Post-War British Poets

Twentieth Century Anglo-Welsh Poetry

Voices in the Gallery (with Joan Abse)

The Music Lover’s Literary Companion (with Joan Abse)

Plays

The View from Row G.

(Three plays: House of Cowards,

The Dogs of Pavlov, Pythagoras Smith)

Novels

Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve
Some Corner of an English Field

O. Jones, O. Jones
There Was a Young Man from Cardiff
The Strange Case of Dr Simmonds and Dr Glas

Other Prose

Medicine on Trial

A Poet in the Family

A Strong Dose of Myself (Confessions, Stories, Essays)

Journals from the Ant Heap

Intermittent Journals

Goodbye, Twentieth Century

The Two Roads Taken

The Presence

Acknowledgements

Of the fifty poems included here, sixteen have been taken unrevised from New and Collected Poems (Hutchinson, 2003) along with a few new versions. A further six poems first appeared in Running Late (Hutchinson, 2006). All the others have been written over the last four years, some of which were recently aired in Acumen, Agenda, BBC, London Magazine, Poetry Review and Poetry Wales.

Author’s Note

My thanks to my compatriot, the Welsh poet Tony Curtis, who first suggested I should write more scenes from married life, early and late, and so produce a companion volume to The Presence (Hutchinson, 2007). I’m also indebted to Siân Williams for much more than her secretarial skills and to my editor at Hutchinson, Anthony Whittome.

About the Book

Dannie and Joan Abse had been married for more than fifty years when she was killed in a car crash in 2005. After her death he wrote his extraordinary memoir of loss, The Presence, which was the Wales Book of the Year in 2008.

In contrast, much of this new collection of scenes from married life is a delightful celebration. In it Dannie Abse returns to their marriage through all its seasons, and celebrates love in verse which is funny, tender and playful as well as serious and passionate. More than half the poems appear in this form for the first time.

’One for sorrow, two for joy’ is the old country saw about the magpie. These poems reflect its truth, and in the process transfigure ordinary life and love into something rich and strange.

About the Author

Dannie Abse, poet and doctor, lives in Golders Green. This year he celebrated sixty years of publishing with Hutchinson. A former President of the Poetry Society, he has written over thirty books, including poetry, fiction, criticism, plays, medical subjects and memoirs. His novel The Strange Case of Dr Simmonds and Dr Glas was long-listed for the Booker Prize and his recent memoir The Presence was Wales Book of the Year 2008.

First Meeting

Do you need second sight

to know love at first sight?

No-one gabbled on and on about fate

and the wheeling stars.

Simply, when you came near me

you trembled as aspen leaves do

and I, like Simon Magus,

thought I would levitate.

Sloppy Love Poem

‘Enough amorous hyperboles,’

Catullus to his lover said.

‘Let’s kiss 1000 times

and after, count 1000 more.’

They untangled quickly

to undress for bed.

But one loose kiss or two

undid their duff agenda

for in their douce and moaning

dovecot they hardly knew

who was who or who was what

and forgot to count the number.

As sly deft Catullus was

so I’m dizzy-daft with you

guilty of lovers’ word abuse,

wet confectionery rot: ‘muse-baby’,

‘honey-bunny’, ‘sweetie-pie’, ‘pumpkin’,

‘pet’, ‘pudding’, ‘darling apricot’.

Yes, you’re the world’s 8th dishy

wonder and I love you, pussy cat.