Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Poems on the Underground

This may mean nothing to anyone who doesn't live or work in London, but the current series of Poems on the Underground is surprisingly good.

I don't mean to be insulting to a worthwhile venture, but as a poetry fan I've always been slightly disappointed with their obvious selections of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats etc.

(If you don't know what Poems on the Underground is, imagine you're in London, and you're on the Tube, and you look up above the heads of the people sitting opposite you, and in between the Underground map and an advert for car insurance, there's a poem. It's as simple as that.)

Currently the poems are themes around music, and the selection includes this one by DH Lawrence:


Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

D. H. Lawrence

(More info can be found at the Transport for London website.)

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