New Poems on the Underground November 2021

A new set of poems will be circling London Underground trains throughout November. As the year draws to a close, poems by the Scottish makar Jackie Kay and the distinguished Jamaican poet Linton Kwesi Johnson celebrate the enduring value of our closest human relationships. And well-loved poems by Keats and Hopkins, alongside new poems by Laurel Prizewinners Seán Hewitt and Sean Borodale, remind us of the glory and fragility of the natural world.

The poems featured in November:

The final stanza of Inversnaid by Gerard Manley Hopkins. While Hopkins served as a priest in Glasgow, he visited the famous wetlands of Inversnaid, now a Nature Reserve. 

The last stanza of Keats’s poem To Autumn, as moving today as it was when Keats wrote it two hundred years ago, in the knowledge that he had not long to live.          

Beacon of Hope by Linton Kwesi Johnson (for his close friend and mentor, John La Rose) 

Leaf  by Seán Hewitt 

Hot Bright Visionary Flies by Sean Borodale 

Promise by Jackie Kay

from Inversnaid by Gerard Manley Hopkins ' What would the world be, once bereft Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left, O let them be left, wildness and wet; Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.'
from To Autumn by John Keats ' Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.'
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'
Leaf , Seán Hewitt from Tongues of Fire 'For woods are forms of grief grown from the earth. For they creak with the weight of it. For each tree is an altar to time. For the oak, whose every knot guards a hushed cymbal of water. For how the silver water holds the heavens in its eye. For the axletree of heaven and the sleeping coil of wind and the moon keeping watch. For how each leaf traps light as it falls. For even in the nighttime of life it is worth living, just to hold it.'
Hot Bright Visionary Flies by Sean Borodale 'The hot lozenge lifts. Up-risings; downfalls. A ticking beyond sound. A red square of falling sun. A mass breathing, beating. A sky, studded with stones fraught with cut light. An abolished mechanics at dewdrop scale: onyx, topaz, opal. Each a dull pulsing. One day, it will stop: The air will stop; the light will stop.'
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.'

You can see the rest of This Month’s Poems here