Poems on the Underground

Poetry on the Underground book

Poems on the Underground was launched in 1986, following an idea from the American writer Judith Chernaik, to bring poetry to a wider audience.

The programme helps to make journeys more stimulating and inspiring by showcasing a range of poetry in Tube train carriages across London. The poems are selected by Judith Chernaik and poets George Szirtes and Imtiaz Dharker.

Poems on the Underground highlights classical, contemporary and international work, by both famous and relatively unknown poets. It has been a great success and has inspired similar schemes in cities around the world, from New York to Shanghai. It's proved to be a great way of introducing the public to poetry, with passengers often wanting to read more.

The scheme is supported by TfL, Arts Council England and The British Council.

Poems on the Underground (Penguin, 2015) contains over 200 poems featured on the Tube and is available from the London Transport Museum shop and all good bookshops.

Our first set of poems for 2021 is now on trains. Poems on the Underground is marking the 200th anniversary of the death of the poet John Keats, and features six poems written or inspired by Keats and his love of nature. These poems are:

An excerpt from Endymion by John Keats
An excerpt from Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelly
Wish You Were Here by Julia Fiedorczuk
rising by Jean 'Binta' Breeze
I go inside the tree by Jo Shapcott and
When I have Fears That I May Cease To Be by John Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting loveā€”then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

More information is available on the Poems on the Underground website.

Email any questions to poetry@tfl.gov.uk.