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This review is taken from PN Review 197, Volume 37 Number 3, January - February 2011.

THREE MEN ON THE METRO ANDY CROFT, W.N. HERBERT, PAUL SUMMERS, Three Men on the Metro (Five Leaves Poetry) £7.99

The link between tourism and poetry may not be an obvious one, but it has a noble tradition from Byron to Auden and MacNeice, not counting the first nine and twenty ‘sundry folk’ who set off one April on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. The link between poetry and the London Underground has a modern context in poetry posters, still happily thriving. But apart from Ezra Pound’s haiku-style ‘In a Station of the Metro’, the most notable set of verses I know actually combining an underground and tourism is Seamus Heaney’s opening poem in Station Island where he evokes the Orpheus myth as he and his wife honeymoon in London: ‘There we were in the vaulted tunnel running’. Running, however, is the last thing these North Eastern poets visiting the Moscow Metro are able to do. Faced with one of the world’s busiest networks (2.5 billion passengers each year over 300 kilometres of track and 177 stations), as one of the poets says, ‘We cannot help but stand and stare’. But well they might, not only for the Metro’s magnificent cultural museum of art and architecture, but also for the strange flotsam and jetsam that now inhabit it in the post-Communist era.

If it is said that the attentive reader can negotiate Dublin with a copy of Joyce’s Ulysses, albeit as it was on 16 June 1904, this would not be true for the Moscow Metro of these poets. But it is also said that the best way ...

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