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Railhub Archive
1996-08-05 LRT-001
London Regional Transport


Summer poems on the Underground

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London Regional Transport

Summer poems on the Underground

5 August 1996
source London Regional Transport
type Press release

One of the most popular art forms of the past decade will receive a boost in August when a new set of Poems on the Underground is posted in Tube cars throughout London.

Now in its tenth successful year, the new set includes poems from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. They are:

o His return to London by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
o I taste a liquor never brewed by Emily Dickinson (1831-1886)
o The Poet by George Mackay Brown (1921-1996)
o Greenwich Park by Herbert Lomas (b. 1924)
o Apology by Mimi Khalvati (b. 1944)
o and by popular demand, from an earlier set: So wel go no more a roving by Lord Byron (1788-1824).

A number of celebrations are planned to mark the tenth anniversary of Poems on the Underground. These include a poetry competition, run with the Times Literary Supplement, an exhibition of posters from the past ten years of Poems on the Underground at the Poetry Library on the South Bank Centre, an evening of poetry and music at the Barbican Centre on Wednesday 9 October and a poetry evening at the London Transport Museum on Thursday 28 November.

Following the huge success of Poems on the Underground in London, poetry on public transport is now flourishing world wide. Schemes are already well-established in Ireland, America, Australia, Scandanavia, France and Germany. The British Council displays the London poems in over 100 libraries throughout the world. The London "Tube" poems were displayed recently on public transport systems in Oslo and Helsinki and an exchange of poems with the Paris Metro is currently under discussion.
The poems used in the series are selected by Judith Chernaik, Gerard Benson and Cicely Herbert, and designed by Tom Davidson. London Transport pays all of the production costs for the series and provides advertising space for the poems. The programme also receives financial support from the British Library (Stefan Zweig Programme), London Arts Board, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

1. The popular anthology of all poems displayed on the Underground, "Poems on the Underground", 5th edition (Cassell ?99) the "Poems on the Underground" Audiobook (Cassell ?99); along with Love Poems (?99); and Comic Poems (?99) are available from the London Transport Museum shop in Covent Garden and all good book shops. Posters of the individual poems are also available from the London Transport Museum shop. The Museum also runs a subscription service for poem posters (both new and previous poems). Contact the London Transport Museum for details on 0171 379 6344.

from "His Return to London" by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

From the dull confines of the drooping West,
To see the day spring from the pregnant East,
Ravished in spirit, I come, nay more, I fly
To thee, blessed place of my nativity! ...
O fruitful Genius! that bestowest here
An everlasting plenty, year by year.
O place! O people! Manners! framed to please
All nations, customs, kindreds, languages!
London my home is: though by hard fate sent
Into a long and irksome banishment;
Yet since called back; henceforward let me be,
O native country, repossessed by thee!

"I taste a liquor never brewed" by Emily Dickinson (1831-1886)

I taste a liquor never brewed -
From Tankards scooped in Pearl -
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol!
Inebriate of Air - am I -
And Debauchee of Dew -
Reeling - thro endless summer days -
From inns of Molten Blue -
When "Landlords" turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxgloves door -
When Butterflies - renounce their "drams" -
I shall but drink the more!
Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats -
And Saints - to windows run -
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the - Sun -

"So well go no more a-roving" by Lord Byron (1788-1824)

So well go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And Love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet wel go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.

"The Poet" by George Mackay Brown (1921-1996)

Therefore he no more troubled the pool of silence.
But put on mask and cloak,
Strung a guitar
And moved among the folk.
Dancing they cried
"Ah, how our sober islands
Are gay again, since this blind lyrical tramp
Invaded the Fair!"
Under the last dead lamp
When all the dancers and masks had gone inside
His cold stare
Returned to its true task, interrogation of silence.

"Greenwich Park" by Herbert Lomas (b.1924)

Springs come, a little late, in the park:
a tree-rat smokes flat Ss over the lawn.
A mallard has somehow forgotten something
it cant quite remember. Daffodils yawn,
prick their ears, push their muzzles out
for a kiss. Pansies spoof pensive
Priapus faces: Socrates or Verlaine.
A cock-pigeon is sexually harassing
a hen: pecking and poking and padding
behind her impertinently, bowing and mowing.
But when hes suddenly absent-minded -
cant keep even sex in his head -
she trembles, stops her gadding, doubts
and grazes his way. He remembers and pouts.

"Apology" by Mimi Khalvati (b.1944)

Humming your Nocturne on the Circle Line,
unlike the piano, running out of breath
Ive been writing you out of my life
my loves (one out, one in).
Ive pushed you out of the way to see
what the gaps in my life might look like,
how large they are,
how quickly I could write them in;
and not (at least till Ive lost you both)
rewriting you only means
that the spaces Im not writing in are where
I live.

Railhub Archive ::: 1996-08-05 LRT-001


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