The June selection of poems on the London Underground (LU) were brought together as part of the year-long 150th anniversary celebration of the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats.
One of Yeats’s best-loved early poems, ‘When You Are Old’, reflecting his lifelong love of the actress Maud Gonne, is one of six new poems to feature on Tube trains across the network, which will be displayed for four weeks.
From June 15th Tube passengers will also be able to read an opening poem from Seamus Heaney’s last collection, Human Chain, as part of a wider celebration of Irish poetry. ‘Had I not been awake’ explores Heaney’s rediscovery of meaning and mystery in the natural world following the loss of his religious faith. Heaney’s poem is joined by a connected work, the famous 16th Century poem ‘Westron wynde when wilt thou blow’, which returns to the Tube after being part of one of the first ever poetry displays on the Underground. A leaflet celebrating Irish poetry including poems by W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Patrick Kavanagh and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, in a translation from Irish by Paul Muldoon, is also free to the public at selected Tube stations.
The new poetry selection will also feature poems by leading young Hungarian poet Anna Szabó, who captures the experience of childbirth in her poem ‘from Labour Ward’, and the late Kashmir-born poet Agha Shahid Ali, whose poem ‘Stationery’ recalls the emotional subtlety behind the art of paper-making. Sam Riviere’s poem ‘Cuts’ will also grace Tube train carriages across the Capital, offering a wry look at the troubles of contemporary Britain. The new selection of poems reflects the wide-ranging interests of George Szirtes and Imtiaz Dharker, who have both recently joined the Poems on the Underground editorial committee.
Judith Chernaik, writer, editor and founder of Poems on the Underground, said:
‘We’re delighted to announce our latest selection of Poems on the Underground, providing a popular platform for poetry talent, past and present. We’re very pleased to be sharing this diverse set of poems with 4 million daily Tube passengers and to be joining in the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the great poet W.B. Yeats.’
Poems on the Underground, founded in 1986, aims to bring poetry to a mass audience. It helps to make journeys more stimulating by showcasing a diverse range of poetry, including classical, contemporary and international poets in Tube train carriages across London. The programme has inspired similar displays on public transport in cities worldwide, from New York and Paris to Moscow and Shanghai. Poems on the Underground is supported by Transport for London, Arts Council England and the British Council, with special support for this series from Yeats2015.
For more information about Poems on the Underground, please visit www.tfl.gov.uk/poems.