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The best poetry books of 2014

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From Kate Tempest’s Greek gods to an ode to Didcot power station and Dannie Abse’s farewell – this year’s poetry roundup

The British poetry community has been mourning the loss of one of its leading lights, Dannie Abse. His death in autumn at the age of 91 marked the end of a literary career that had spanned more than half a century; Ask the Moon, his new and collected poems (Hutchinson), had been due out next year, but was published in November to mark his passing. Abse’s preoccupation with questions of life, death and what comes after may have been unremarkable among poets, but as a practising doctor, he brought a blend of precision and compassion to a body of work that was attentive, tender, always deeply felt. “And how would I wish to go?” he mused, in ‘Last Words’:

Not as in opera – that would offend –
nor like a blue-eyed cowboy shot and
short of words,
but finger-tapping still our private
morse, ‘...love you,’
before the last flowers and flies
descend.

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