January 2023

Poems on the Underground January 2023

This month we feature  Poems for the New Year followed by Poems to Celebrate Burn’s Night, Winter Poems on the Underground and Poems of Hope

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns 'Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to min'? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days o' auld lang syne? We twa hae run about the braes, And pu'd the gowans fine; But we've wander'd mony a weary foot Sin' auld lang syne. We twa hae paidl't i' the burn, From mornin sun till dine; But seas between us braid hae roar'd Sin' auld lang syne. Chorus: For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne, We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne.'

Poems for the New Year

Promise by Jackie Kay

Promise by Jackie Kay: Remember, the time of year when the future appears like a blank sheet of paper a clean calendar, a new chance. On thick white snow you vow fresh footprints then watch them go with the wind’s hearty gust. Fill your glass. Here’s tae us. Promises made to be broken, made to last.'

Time to Be Slow by John O’Donohue

Time to be slow, John O’Donohue ‘This is the time to be slow, Lie low to the wall Until the bitter weather passes’

Benediction by James Berry

Benediction, James Berry 'Thanks to the ear that someone may hear Thanks to seeing that someone may see'

Prayer by Carol Ann Duffy

Prayer, Carol Ann Duffy 1999 poster, Poems on the Underground 1,000 Years of Poetry in English 'Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer utters itself. So, a woman will lift her head from the sieve of her hands and stare at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift. Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth enters our hearts, that small familiar pain; then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth in the distant Latin chanting of a train. ​Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales console the lodger looking out across a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls a child's name as though they named their loss. Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer - Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.' ​

And if I Speak of Paradise by Roger Robinson

And if I speak of Paradise, Roger Robinson ‘And if I speak of Paradise then I’m speaking of my grandmother who told me to carry it always on my person, concealed, so no one else would know but me.’

Expectans Expectavi by Anne Ridler

Expectans Expectavi by Anne Ridler (b.1912) Reprinted by permission of Carcanet from Collected Poems, 1994 ' The candid freezing season again: Candle and cracker, needles of fir and frost; Carols that through the night air pass, piercing The glassy husk of heart and heaven; Children's faces white in the pane, bright in the tree-light. And the waiting season again, That begs a crust and suffers joy vicariously: In bodily starvation now, in the spirit's exile always. O might the hilarious reign of love begin, let in Like carols from the cold The lost who crowd the pane, numb outcasts into welcome. '

Poems to Celebrate Burns Night

Up in the Morning Early

Up in the Morning Early ,Robert Burns 'Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west, The drift is driving sairly; Sae loud and shrill's I hear the blast, I'm sure it's winter fairly.'

A Red Red Rose by Robert Burns

A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns Poems on the Underground 1992 poster 'O my Luve's like a red, red rose, That’s newly sprung in June; O my Luve's like the melodie That’s sweetly play'd in tune. As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, So deep in luve am I; And I will love thee still, my Dear, Till a’ the seas gang dry. Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear, And the rocks melt wi’ the sun: O I will love thee still, my Dear, While the sands o’ life shall run. And fare thee weel, my only Luve! And fare thee weel, a while! And I will come again, my Luve, Tho' it were ten thousand mile!'

John Anderson my Jo by Robert Burns

Winter Poems on the Underground

Potosi by Pauline Stainer

Potosi by Pauline Stainer Prizewinner The TLS Poems on the Underground Poetry Competition ' The moon falls like a metaphysician on a silver city so distressed a metal - even the horses shod with silver in the freezing streets wagons, blue with graffiti under the spoil-tips, and at first light mountain foxes, red as cinnabar, moving against the flow between the silver-bearing lodes, the upland snow. ' Pauline Stainer PrizewinnerThe TLS Poems on the Underground Poetry Comptetition

Season Song by Anon translated by Flann O’Brien

Season Song, Anon tr. Flann O Brien ' Here's a song- stags give tongue winter snows summer goes. High cold blow sun is low brief his day seas give spray.'

Now Winter Nights Enlarge by Thomas Campion

Now winter nights enlarge by Thomas Campion 'Now winter nights enlarge The number of their hours, And clouds their storms discharge Upon the airy towers. Let now the chimneys blaze And cups o’erflow with wine: Let well-tun'd words amaze With harmony divine. Now yellow waxen lights Shall wait on honey Love, While youthful Revels, Masks, and Courtly sights, Sleep’s leaden spells remove. This time doth well dispense With lovers’ long discourse; Much speech hath some defence, Though beauty no remorse. All do not all things well; Some measures comely tread; Some knotted Riddles tell; Some Poems smoothly read. The summer hath his joys, And Winter his delights; Though love and all his pleasures are but toys, They shorten tedious nights.'

The Great Frost by John Gay

The Great Frost by John Gay 'O Roving Muse, recall that wondrous year, When winter reigned in bleak Britannia's air; When hoary Thames, with frosted osiers crowned, Was three long moons in icy fetters bound. The waterman, forlorn along the shore, Pensive reclines upon his useless oar, Sees harnessed steeds desert the stony town, And wander roads unstable, not their own; Wheels o'er the hardened waters smoothly glide, And rase with whitened tracks the slippery tide. Here the fat cook piles high the blazing fire, And scarce the spit can turn the steer entire. Booths sudden hide the Thames, long streets appear, And numerous games proclaim the crowded fair.'

Snow by Louis MacNeice

Snow by Louis MacNeice 'The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was Spawning snow and pink roses against it Soundlessly collateral and incompatible: World is suddener than we fancy it. World is crazier and more of it than we think, Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion A tangerine and spit the pips and feel The drunkenness of things being various. And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes - On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands -There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.'

Fenland Station in Winter by Katherine Pierpoint

Fenland Station in Winter by Katherine Pierpoint 'The railway station in winter lies wide open on three sides; A waiting mousetrap. No creatures out in the hard fields, The desert of blue-lipped ice. The tracks tweeze the last thin train away, Wipe it on the rim, and lose it. The sky is bent so low now, the wind is horizontal. It whittles the sky's undersurface to the pith, Paring away a grey unwinding peel of snow. A mean, needling flake rides the flat wind, Picking the empty teeth of the trees, Then falling, frantic, to gnaw at the setting earth, Clinging there like a starving mouse's claws in velvet.'

Emmonsails Heath in Winter by John Clare

John Clare (1793-1864), Emmonsails Heath in Winter 'I love to see the old heath's withered brake Mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling While the old heron from the lonely lake Starts slow and flaps his melancholly wing, And oddling crow in idle motion swing On the half-rotten ash tree's topmost twig, Beside whose trunk the gipsy makes his bed . Up flies the bouncing woodcock from the brig Where a black quagmire quakes beneath the tread, The fieldfare chatter in the whistling thorn And for the haw round fields and closen rove, And coy bumbarrels twenty in a drove Flit down the hedge rows in the frozen plain And hang on little twigs and start again.'

Prelude 1 by T.S. Eliot

Prelude 1, T.S. Eliot Poems on the Underground 1992 'The winter evening settles down With smell of steaks in passageways. Six o’clock. The burnt-out ends of smoky days. And now a gusty shower wraps The grimy scraps Of withered leaves about your feet And newspapers from vacant lots; The showers beat On broken blinds and chimney-pots, And at the corner of the street A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps. And then the lighting of the lamps.'

The Embankment by T.E. Hulme

The Embankment (The Fantasia of a Fallen Gentleman on a Cold, Bitter Night), T. E. Hulme ' Once, in finesse of fiddles found I ecstasy, In the flash of gold heels on the hard pavement. Now see I That warmth’s the very stuff of poesy. Oh, God, make small The old star-eaten blanket of the sky, That I may fold it round me and in comfort lie.'

from King Lear by William Shakespeare

From King Lear, William Shakespeare ' Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are, That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you From seasons such as these?'

Western Wind by Anon

Western Wind, Anon, before 1500 ' Western wind when wilt thou blow the small rain down can rain Christ If my love were in my arms and I in my bed again'

Poems of Hope

Sometimes by Sheenagh Pugh

Hope by Edith Södergran translated by Herbert Lomas

Hope by Edith Södergran (1892 - 1923) translated by Herbert Lomas' I want to let go - so I don't give a damn about fine writing, I'm rolling my sleeves up. The dough's rising ... Oh what a shame I can't bake cathedrals ... that sublimity of style I've always yearned for ... Child of our time - haven't you found the right shell for your soul? Before I die I shall bake a cathedral.'

Beacon of Hope (for John La Rose) by Linton Kwesi Johnson

from Beacon of Hope (for John La Rose) by Linton Kwesi Johnson ' welcome nocturnal friend I name you beacon of hope tonight fear fades to oblivion as you guide us beyond the stars to a new horizon tomorrow a stranger will enter my hut my cave my cool cavern of gloom I will give him bread he will bring good news from afar I will give him water he will bring a gift of light'

Happiness by Stephen Dunn

Happiness, Stephen Dunn ' A state you must dare not enter with hopes of staying, quicksand in the marshes, and all the roads leading to a castle that doesn't exist. But there it is, as promised, with its perfect bridge above the crocodiles, and its doors forever open.'

Carving by Imtiaz Dharker

World Poems on the Underground Carving , Imtiaz Dharkar. Others can carve out their space in tombs and pyramids

The Language Issue by Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill translated by Paul Muldoon

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, trans. Paul Muldoon The Language Issue 'Ceist na Teangan Cuirim mo dhóchas ar snámh i mbáidín teangan faoi mar a leagfá naíonán i gcliabhán a bheadh fite fuaite de dhuilleoga feileastraim is bitiúmin agus pic bheith cuimilte lena thóin ansan é a leagadh síos i measc na ngiolcach is coigeal na mban sí le taobh na habhann, féachaint n’fheadaraís cá dtabharfaidh an sruth é, féachaint, dála Mhaoise, an bhfóirfidh iníon Fharoinn? The Language Issue I place my hope on the water in this little boat of the language, the way a body might put an infant in a basket of intertwined iris leaves, its underside proofed with bitumen and pitch, then set the whole thing down amidst the sedge and bulrushes by the edge of a river only to have it borne hither and thither, not knowing where it might end up; in the lap, perhaps, of some Pharaoh’s daughter. '

Love Without Hope by Robert Graves

Love Without Hope, Robert Graves 'Love without hope, as when the young bird-catcher Swept off his tall hat to the Squire's own daughter, So let the imprisoned larks escape and fly Singing about her head, as she rode by.'

Celia Celia by Adrian Mitchell

Celia Celia, Adrian Mitchell ' When I am sad and weary When I think all hope has gone When I walk along High Holborn I think of you with nothing on'

First Fig by Edna St Vincent Millay

First Fig, Edna St. Vincent Millay 'My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah! my foes, and oh, my friends - It gives a lovely light!'

I Sing of Change by Niyi Osundare

I Sing of Change Niyi Osundare I sing of the beauty of Athens without its slaves Of a world free of kings and queens and other remnants of an arbitrary past

You can see our poems from 2022 here