February 2011 - Poems on the Underground


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This set includes poems by two poets featured in the very first set of poems in January 1986: Seamus Heaney, who was later awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Guyana-born Grace Nichols, whose poems are now read by youngsters all over the UK.

Other poems released are:

- the opening lines of ‘Endymion’ by John Keats, (‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever’) – lines which have inspired this project from its inception
- a translation by Tony Harrison of a verse by Palladas, a 4th century Alexandrian schoolmaster
- a ‘Riddle’ with Anglo-Saxon resonance by Gerard Benson, one of our founding team
- a poem by Thomas Hardy inspired by Mozart, which coincides with the celebration of Mozart on BBC Radio 3.

These poems in different ways all celebrate the enduring value of the written word, from the earliest times to the present

Published in: Education, Travel
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February 2011 - Poems on the Underground

  1. 1. For the Life of This Planet The way the red sun surrenders The impulse of stones rolling its wholeness to curving ocean towards their own roundness. bit by bit. The way curving ocean The unexpected comets of flying fish. gives birth to the birth of stars And Forest, Great-Breathing-Spirit, in the growing darkness, rooting to the very end wearing everything in its path for the life of this planet. to cosmic smoothness.Poems on the Underground celebrating 25 years Grace Nichols (b. 1950) Reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe from I Have Crossed an Ocean: Selected Poems (2010)MAYOR OF LONDON tfl.gov.uk/poems Transport for London
  2. 2. ‘Loving the rituals’ Loving the rituals that keep men close, Nature created means for friends apart: pen, paper, ink, the alphabet, signs for the distant and disconsolate heart. Palladas (4th century AD)Poems on the Underground celebrating 25 years translated by Tony Harrison Reprinted by permission of the translatorMAYOR OF LONDON tfl.gov.uk/poems Transport for London
  3. 3. Lines from Endymion nA thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathingIts loveliness increases; it will never A flowery band to bind us to the earth,Pass into nothingness; but still will keep Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearthA bower quiet for us, and a sleep Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,Full of sweet dreams, and health, Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways and quiet breathing. Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all, Some shape of beauty moves away the pall From our dark spirits.Poems on the Underground celebrating 25 years John Keats (1795-1821)MAYOR OF LONDON tfl.gov.uk/poems Transport for London
  4. 4. RiddleI was the cause of great troubles,yet, resting among leaves, I did nothing wrong.After much waiting I was taken in hand, But what I entered I also altered,passed from one to another. bringing light where there had been darkness.Broken I moved beyond sharp barriers I brought strife where there had been peace,and was cradled in wetness, mashed to pulp. pain where there had been comfort.Soon I entered a dark tunnel My journey ended in the place of corruptionwhere bathed in acids I altered my being. but by then I had changed the world.Poems on the Underground celebrating 25 years Gerard Benson (b. 1931) Reprinted by permission of Smith/Doorstop from A Good Time (2010)MAYOR OF LONDON tfl.gov.uk/poems Transport for London
  5. 5. Colmcille the ScribeM Wisdom keeps welling in streams Mfrom the Irish, c.11th century From my fine-drawn sallow hand:M Riverrun on the vellumM Of ink from green-skinned holly.My hand is cramped from penwork. My small runny pen keeps goingMy quill has a tapered point. Through books, through thick and thin,Its bird-mouth issues a blue-dark To enrich the scholars’ holdings –Beetle-sparkle of ink. Penwork that cramps my hand. Colmcille: 6th century Irish saintPoems on the Underground celebrating 25 years Seamus Heaney (b. 1939) Reprinted by permission of Faber & Faber from Human Chain (2010)MAYOR OF LONDON tfl.gov.uk/poems Transport for London
  6. 6. Lines to a Movement in Mozart’s E-flat Symphony Show me again the time When in the Junetide’s prime We flew by meads and mountains northerly! – Yea, to such freshness, fairness, fullness, fineness, freeness, Love lures life on…. Show me again just this: The moment of that kiss Away from the prancing folk, by the strawberry-tree! – Yea, to such rashness, ratheness, rareness, ripeness, richness, Mozart: Minuet, Symphony No. 39 Love lures life on.arranged for piano by Julius Schulhoff, © The British Library Board, Images Online H 2345Poems on the Underground celebrating 25 years of Mozart on BBC Radio 3 Thomas Hardy celebrating The Genius (1840-1928) MAYOR OF LONDON tfl.gov.uk/poems Transport for London