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Friday, June 03, 2011

Milosz, Herbert and Zagajewski poems installed on London Underground

The following poem by Czeslaw Milosz and poems by Adam Zagajewski and Zbigniew Herbert are being displayed on the London Underground. All post-war Polish poets, they continue the great tradition of Poems on the Underground which has been going for 25 years. They also celebrate another anniversary: the centenary of the late Nobel Prize laureate Czeslaw Milosz.

As a footnote to this current news, West Australian poet Tracy Ryan had a poem displayed on the Underground some years ago when she was living in UK. Perhaps writingWA or WA Poets Inc could campaign to have the same on Transperth vehicles.


I liked the bellows operated by rope.
A hand or a foot pedal – I don’t remember.
But that blowing and blazing of fire!
And a piece of iron in the fire, held there by tongs,
Red, softened, ready for the anvil,
Beaten with a hammer, bent into a horseshoe,
Thrown in a bucket of water, sizzle, steam.
And horses hitched to be shod,
Tossing their manes; and in the grass by the river
Plowshares, sledge runners, harrows waiting for repair.
At the entrance, my bare feet on the dirt floor,
Here, gusts of heat; at my back, white clouds,
I stare and stare. It seems I was called for this:
To glorify things just because they are.

Czesław Miłosz

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