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A new anthology of poems from one of Britain's most well-respected poets

2013 marks Dannie Abse's 90th birthday. In his lifetime he has published an astonishing array of work including poetry, fiction, criticism, plays and autobiography but it is as a poet that he is best known and loved.

In Speak, Old Parrot he returns to themes of loss, love, medicine and its moral implications, the nature of creativity, Jewish folk tradition and the passing of time. The poems are observant of the outside world as well as the inner life and emotions but most of all they are a joy to read.


What's the best thing about judging the Forward prizes? Free books? Reassessing a poet you hadn't paid enough attention to? Those are good, but the best might be the poems, and odd lines, that stick in your head. They may be from books that didn't even make the shortlist, but they've still made a mark – Dannie Abse's line "Men become mortal when their fathers die" from his collection Speak, Old Parrot, isn't going to leave me any time soon.

Guardian Books Blog

The phenomenal Dr Abse still prescribes verbal wit and human warmth, radiant memory and blazing perception, as remedies against a time of life when "all pavements slope uphill". This veteran flyer can still sing and swoop.


Dannie Abse's line "Men become mortal when their fathers die" from his collection Speak, Old Parrot, isn't going to leave me any time soon.

Sheenagh Pugh, Guardian

It’s a book packed with both feeling and swagger, a tumbling energy that belies the closing farewell.

Literary Review

There is much that could be said about this inspiring collection, and all of it positive. It should be bought, read and re-read.

New Welsh Review

Abse is still writing – and reading – at his mesmerizing best

Poetry London

Speak, Old Parrot shows that if art and humour will both be overtaken by death, they refuse to yield ground without a struggle. What will survive the endless nothingness is wit and love.

Terry Eagleton, The Lancet

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    May 15, 2013


    80 pages

    RRP $35.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    April 4, 2013

    Cornerstone Digital

    80 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

Also by Dannie Abse

Ask the Moon
Two for Joy
New Selected Poems
The Presence
Running Late
New And Collected Poems
Goodbye, Twentieth Century


In the Flesh
All Of Us
Greetings to Our Friends in Brazil
The Poems Of Wilfred Owen
The Iliad
Introducing George The Poet
The Necessary Aptitude
The Horseman's Word
Charles Bukowski
In Doctor No's Garden
The Asylum Dance
My Alexandria
The War Poems Of Wilfred Owen
The Broken Word
Stranger Music
Night Sky with Exit Wounds
The Bone Flowers
Falling Awake