Poems on the Underground marks 150th anniversary of W.B. Yeats

02 March 2015

In the latest selection of poems launched on the London Underground (LU), Poems on the Underground is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats.

From today, the poems will be visible on Tube trains across the network. Passengers will now have the opportunity to read the first set of poems, which features the final stanza of 'Sailing to Byzantium', Yeats' tribute to the timeless power of imagination; and his popular love poem, 'He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven'.

The poems will be displayed throughout the year in a wider celebration of Irish poetry. Tube passengers will also be able to read a translation of Antoine Ó Raifteiri's Irish verses by Lady Gregory; Louis MacNeice's epigraph to Holes in the Sky (1944); and poems by the distinguished contemporary Irish poets Eavan Boland and Paula Meehan.

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, will also be free to the public at selected Tube stations later this year.

Judith Chernaik, writer, editor and founder of Poems on the Underground, said: `We're very pleased to be sharing the delights of Irish poetry past and present with 4 million daily Tube travellers. We hope Londoners will enjoy this very special set of poems, which celebrate the great poet W.B. Yeats, born 150 years ago.

Poems on the Underground, founded in 1986, aims to bring poetry to a mass audience. It helps to make journeys more stimulating and even inspiring by showcasing a diverse range of poetry, including classical, contemporary and international poets in Tube train carriages across London. 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.

Notes to Editors:
•The full list of poems featured is as follows:

  • W.B. Yeats, 'Sailing to Byzantium'; 'He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven'.
  • Lady Augusta Gregory, Mise Raifteiri an File / I am Raftery the Poet (from the Irish of Antoine Ó Raifteiri), first published in Poets and dreamers (Dublin 1903)
  • Louis MacNeice, 'What is truth?' from Collected Poems (Faber 1979)
  • Eavan Boland, 'Legends' from Collected Poems (Carcanet 1995)
  • Paula Meehan, 'Not Weeding' from Painting Rain (Carcanet 2009)
  • Posters, designed by Tom Davidson, are available from the Poetry Society and London Transport Museum.
  • A new paperback edition of the Penguin anthology Poems on the Underground will be published on 26th March 2015
  • The launch event for the Poems on the Underground anthology will take place on Wednesday 15 April from 6 - 8pm at the Embassy of Ireland (by invitation only).