Poems on the Underground May 2022

As the seasons change, poets celebrate the rebirth of nature and dream of a better future for all humanity even as they remind us of the most troubling realities of our times. This month we welcome the flowering of spring as we feature poems of Hope, Dreams  and the beauty of our fragile world.

Exodus by Lotte Kramer

Exodus by Lotte Kramer (b.1923) ' For all mothers in anguish Pushing out their babies In a small basket To let the river cradle them And kind hands find And nurture them Providing safety In a hostile world: Our constant gratitude. As in this last century The crowded trains Taking us away from home Became our baby baskets Rattling to foreign parts Our exodus from death.'

‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind

Song: On May Morning by John Milton

Song: On May Morning, John Milton Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger, Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her The flowery May, who from her green lap throws The yellow cowslip, and the pale primrose. Hail bounteous May that dost inspire Mirth and youth and warm desire! Woods and groves are of thy dressing, Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing. Thus we salute thee with our early song, And welcome thee, and wish thee long.'

from The Song of Solomon , The King James Bible

from The Song of Solomon, The King James Bible (1611) ' My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my Love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over, and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. '

Proud Songsters by Thomas Hardy

The Trees by Philip Larkin

The Trees ,Philip Larkin 1997 poems on the Underground poster 'The trees are coming into leaf Like something almost being said; The recent buds relax and spread, Their greenness is a kind of grief. Is it that they are born again And we grow old? No, they die too. Their yearly trick of looking new Is written down in rings of grain. Yet still the unresting castles thresh In fullgrown thickness every May. Last year is dead, they seem to say, Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.'

Swallows by Owen Sheers

Swallows, Owen Sheers Poems on the Underground 2012 'The swallows are italic again, cutting their sky-jive between the telephone wires, flying in crossed lines. Their annual regeneration so flawless to human eyes that there is no seam between parent and child. Just always the swallows and their script of descenders, dipping their ink to sign their signatures across the page of the sky.'

Nothing Special by Zbigniew Herbert Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott

Nothing Special, Zbigniew Herbert,' nothing special boards paint nails paste paper string mr artist builds a world not from atoms but from remnants'

Coltsfoot and Larches by David Constantine

Coltsfoot and Larches by David Constantine (b. 1944) ' I love coltsfoot that they Make their appearance into life among dead grass: Larches, that they Die colourfully among sombre immortals.' Poems on the Underground Reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe from Collected Poems (2004) © David Constantine

Bowl by Elizabeth Cook

Bowl by Elizabeth Cook Give me a bowl, wide and shallow. Patient to light as a landscape open to the whole weight of a deepening sky. Give me a bowl which turns for ever on a curve so gentle a child could bear it and beasts lap fearless at its low rim.' Poems on the Underground Reprinted by permission of Worple Press from Bowl (2006)

from Ode to the West Wind by P.B. Shelley

from Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley 'Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is: What if my leaves are falling like its own! The tumult of thy mighty harmonies Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone, Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce, My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one! Drive my dead thoughts over the universe Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth! And, by the incantation of this verse, Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! Be through my lips to unawakened Earth The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?'

Poems of Hope

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

From The Vision of Piers Plowman by William Langland

from Piers Plowman by William Langland (c. 1332-1400) "After sharp showers," said Peace, "the sun shines brightest; No weather is warmer than after watery clouds, Nor any love dearer, or more loving friends Than after war and woe, when Love and Peace are masters. There was never war in this world, or wickedness so keen, That Love, if he liked, could not turn to laughter, And Peace, through patience, put an end to all perils." Illustration "God spede ye plough", Trinity MS R.3.14, f.1v reprinted by permission of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College Cambridge

The Sunflower by Eugenio Montale

The Sunflower by Eugenio Montale (1889-1981) English version by Jeremy Reed ' Portami il girasole ch'io lo trapianti nel mio terreno bruciato dal salino, e mostri tutto il giorno agli azzurri specchianti del cielo l'ansieta del suo volto giallino. Tendono alla chiarita le cose oscure, si esauriscono i corpi in un fluire di tinte: queste in musiche. Svanire e dunque la ventura delle venture. Portami tu la pianta che conduce dove sorgono bionde trasparenze e vapora la vita quale essenza; portami il girasole impazzito di luce. Bring me the sunflower and I'll transplant it in my garden's burnt salinity. All day its heliocentric gold face will turn towards the blue of sky and sea. Things out of darkness incline to the light, colours flow into music and ascend, and in that act consume themselves, to burn is both a revelation and an end. Bring me that flower whose one aspiration is to salute the blond shimmering height where all matter's transformed into essence, its radial clockface feeding on the light.' Reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe from the Coastguard's House by Eugenio Montale, English versions by Jeremy Reed (1990). Italian text by permission of Arnoldo Mondadori Editore.

Canticle by John F. Deane

Canticle by John F. Deane (b.1943) ' Sometimes when you walk down to the red gate hearing the scrape-music of your shoes across gravel, a yellow moon will lift over the hill; you swing the gate shut and lean on the topmost bar as if something has been accomplished in the world; a night wind mistles through the poplar leaves and all the noise of the universe stills to an oboe hum, the given note of a perfect music; there is a vast sky wholly dedicated to the stars and you know, with certainty, that all the dead are out, up there, in one holiday flotilla, and that they celebrate the fact of a red gate and a yellow moon that tunes their instruments with you to the symphony.'

Coda by Louis MacNeice

Coda by Louis MacNeice (1907-63) ' Maybe we knew each other better When the night was young and unrepeated And the moon stood still over Jericho. So much for the past; in the present There are moments caught between heart-beats When maybe we know each other better. But what is that clinking in the darkness? Maybe we shall know each other better When the tunnels meet beneath the mountain. '

Concerto for Double Bass by John Fuller

Concerto for Double Bass by John Fuller Poems on the underground 1992 ' He is a drunk leaning companionably Around a lamp post or doing up With intermittent concentration Another drunk's coat.'

Idyll by U A Fanthorpe

IDYLL by U.A. Fanthorpe (b. 1929) ' Not knowing even that we're on the way, Until suddenly we're there. How shall we know? There will be blackbirds, in a late March evening Blur of woodsmoke, whisky in grand glasses, A poem of yours, waiting to be read; and one of mine; A reflective bitch, a cat materialised On a knee. All fears of present and future Will be over, all guilts forgiven. Maybe, heaven. Or maybe We can get so far in this world. I'll believe we can. '

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.'

Poems of Earth and Space

from Auguries of Innocence by William Blake

Out There by Jamie McKendrick

Song in Space by Adrian Mitchell

Song in Space, Adrian Mitchell ' When man first flew beyond the sky He looked back into the world's blue eye. Man said: What makes your eye so blue? Earth said: The tears in the oceans do'

The Bonnie Broukit Bairn by Hugh MacDiarmid

The Bonnie Broukit Bairn by Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978) ' The Bonnie Broukit Bairn Mars is braw in crammasy, Venus in a green silk goun, The auld mune shak's her gowden feathers, Their starry talk's a wheen o' blethers, Nane for thee a thochtie sparin', Earth, thou bonnie broukit bairn! - But greet, an' in your tears ye'll droun The haill clanjamfrie! ' crammasy CRIMSON wheen o' blethers PACK OF NONSENSE broukit NEGLECTED greet WEEP

Spacetime by Miroslav Holub translated by David Young and Dana Hábová

Spacetime by Miroslav Holub (b. 1923) Translated by David Young and Dana Habova 'When I grow up and you get small,/ then - (In Kaluza's theory the fifth dimension is represented as a circle associated with every point in spacetime) - then when I die, I'll never be alive again? Never. Never never? Never never. Yes, but never never never? No... not never never never, just never never. So we made a small family contribution to the quantum problem of eleven-dimensional supergravity.'

I Saw a Man Pursuing the Horizon by Stephen Crane



Dreams by Robert Herrick

Dreams by Robert Herrick (1591-1674) ' Here we are all, by day; by night we're hurled By dreams, each one, into a several world.'

Dream by Kathleen Raine

Kathleen Raine, Dream ' I am becoming a stranger to my dreams, Their places unknown, A bridge there was Over the lovely waters of the Tyne, my mother Was with me, we were almost there, It seemed, but in that almost opened up a valley extending and expanding, wind-sculptured sand; Dry its paths, a beautiful waterless waste Without one green leaf, sand-coloured behind closed eyes. That film shifts, but the arid place remains When day returns Yet we were still going towards the Tyne, That green river-side where childhood's flowers were growing still, my mother and I, she dead, With me forever in that dream'

The Rescue by Seamus Heaney

The Rescue by Seamus Heaney (b.1939) ' In drifts of sleep I came upon you Buried to your waist in snow. You reached your arms out : I came to Like water in a dream of thaw.'

The Reassurance by Thom Gunn

The Reassurance by Thom Gunn 'About ten days or so After we saw you dead You came back in a dream. I'm all right now you said. And it was you, although You were fleshed out again: You hugged us all round then, And gave your welcoming beam. How like you to be kind, Seeking to reassure. And, yes, how like my mind To make itself secure. '

Rain Travel by W.S. Merwin

Rain Travel by W.S. Merwin ' I wake in the dark and remember it is the morning when I must start by myself on the journey I lie listening to the black hour before dawn and you are still asleep beside me while around us the trees full of night lean hushed in their dream that bears us up asleep and awake then I hear drops falling one by one into the sightless leaves and I do not know when they began but all at once there is no sound but rain and the stream below us roaring away into the rushing darkness'

A dream of leavin

A dream of leavin, James Berry ' Man, so used to notn, this is a dream I couldn't dream of dreamin so - I scare I might wake up. One day I would be Englan bound! A travel would have me on sea not chained down below, every tick of clock, but free, man! Free like tourist! Never see me coulda touch world of Englan - when from all accounts I hear that is where all we prosperity end up. I was always in a dream of leavin. My half-finished house was on land where work-laden ancestors' bones lay. The old plantation land still stretch-out down to the sea, giving grazing to cattle.'

dreamer by Jean Binta Breeze

dreamer, Jean Binta Breeze 'roun a rocky corner by de sea seat up pon a drif wood yuh can fine she gazin cross de water a stick eena her han tryin to trace a future in de san'

You can see our poems for April 2022 here