New Poems on the Underground

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Posted: 7 January 2011

Poems by Keats, Hardy and Seamus Heaney are among those selected for a new collection of Poems on the Underground, marking 25 years of verse on display on the Tube.

The theme of this latest set is the value of the written word, with lines from John Keats' "Endymion", "Lines to a Movement in Mozart's E-flat Symphony" by Thomas Hardy, "Colmcille the Scribe" by Seamus Heaney and "A Riddle" by Gerard Benson, poet laureate for Bradford and one of the founder-editors of Poems on the Underground, among those included in the new series.

In addition to the Tube display, 50,000 copies of a leaflet reprinting these poems and others from our early years will be available free at London Tube stations.

Seamus Heaney, nominated for this year's T S Eliot Prize, said: "In his poem ‘Orphus', W.H. Auden asks whether poetry is meant to make us ‘bewildered and happy' or to add to our knowledge of life. For 25 years Poems on the Underground have been doing both things for millions of readers. If the scheme were not provided it would have to be invented."

The poems:

‘Colmcille the Scribe' by Seamus Heaney, from an 11th century Irish manuscript, purporting to be by the 6th-century Irish saint Colmcille (St. Columba). From Human Chain (Faber 2010) Heaney was among the first poets featured in 1986.

‘For the Life of This Planet' by Grace Nichols (also featured in our first set of poems)-a celebration of the natural world under threat. From I Have Crossed an Ocean: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe 2010)

‘Riddle' by Gerard Benson, poet-laureate of Bradford, and a founding member of Poems on the Underground. From A Good Time (Smith/Doorstop 2010)

‘Loving the Rituals' by Palladas, translated by Tony Harrison. A voice from the distant past speaking to the Facebook generation. By permission of Tony Harrison.

‘Lines from Endymion' by John Keats. The young poet confident that art will endure as ‘a joy for ever' despite ‘the gloomy days.'

‘Lines to a Movement in Mozart's E-flat Symphony' by Thomas Hardy. Inspired by the Minuet of the 39th Symphony, in a 19th-c. piano arrangement by the Bohemian composer Julius Schulhoff, reprinted on the poster. Written when Hardy and his wife were estranged, the poet hoped to remind his wife of their early love, using their love of Mozart as a plea for reconciliation.  Publications: Best Poems on the Underground (Phoenix paperback 2010)

Poems on the Underground is supported by TfL, Arts Council England and the British Council. Poems are selected by Judith Chernaik, Gerard Benson and Cicely Herbert. Posters, designed by Tom Davidson, can be obtained from the Poetry Society and London Transport Museum. The leaflet of poems, free at Tube stations, will also be available at the Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre and the Poetry Society.

Publications: Best Poems on the Underground (Phoenix paperback 2010)
Carnival of the Animals, original poems commissioned by Poems on the Underground, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura, with CD by Apollo Chamber Players (Walker Books 2006).

Source: Poems on the Underground

Categories: Poetry News

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