Poetry in Motion

New York


Seamus Heaney
A poster featuring art by Jean Shin depicts red El structures of the Second Ave El in the 1940s. Superimposed on the art is a poem in black text titled Scaffolding, written by Seamus Heaney.


Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.

From Poems 1965-1975 by Seamus Heaney © 1980 by the author. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. 
Elevated © 2013 Jean shin, NYCT Lexington Avenue/63 Street. Image courtesy RSVP Architecture Studio.
Commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design.