Tyndale and the underground poems

Those members of the Society who endure the troglodytic lifestyle that includes travel on the London Underground will acknowledge that, over the years, a certain ray of sunshine has come into their lives as they lurch and straphang from Theydon Bois to Bethnal Green and on to Tooting Bec. Romantic names but a grim urban reality:

Poems on the Underground!

Launched, amid much scepticism, by Judith Chernaik in 1986, the posters on the tube trains are now a delightful feature of the journey and each year’s new issue eagerly awaited. So popular have the Poems become that this civilised dream has been adopted in New York, Moscow, Paris and major cities around the world. The poems range right across the territories of taste, age and century so that Wordsworth sits happily with Seamus Heaney to his right and Ecclesiastes on his left. A poem which goes ‘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!’ will be followed by Wilfred Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth. Wordsworth’s Ode to the West Wind and Lewis Carroll’s Lobster Quadrille, Sumer is icumen in and There was an old man with a beard. Eclectic.

The very good news is that William Tyndale has been included in this seasons selection. Posters will be on the London Underground trains during October and November. The passage is from St Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I imagined as a child. 
But as soon as I was a man, I put away childishness.

Now we see in a glass, even in a dark speaking: but then we shall see face to face. 
Now I know imperfectly: but then I shall know even as I am known.

Now abideth faith, hope, and love, even these three: but the chief of these is love.

On 4th November I went to the launch of these latest Poems on the Underground and concert and reading of poetry by Gerard Benson and Cicely Herbert. Alan Howarth, a Minister for the Arts, spoke about the scheme and mentioned with pleasure the inclusion of William Tyndale. In fact all the speakers had Tyndale on their lips …

The ninth edition of Poems on the Underground is on sale and Tyndale is amongst the two hundred and eighty six published poems that make up a terrific read.

At only 6.99 members of the Tyndale Society might like to think of Christmas presents to their good friends with an application to membership slipped into page 278 …

Rowland Whitehead

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