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 second set of Poems for 2017 celebrate Indian poetry. There are six Indian poems on the Underground in August. The distinguished contemporary Indian poets featured represent a broad range of voices from India herself and the huge Indian diaspora.

Three poems - Pilgrim, This Morning, and Approaching Fifty - include illustrations taken from David Gentleman's India, by kind permission of David Gentleman.

The poems:

Pilgrim by Eunice de Souza (1940-2017)

This Morning by Mona Arshi

Today by Sujata Bhatt

The Butterfly by Arun Kolatkar (1932-2004)

Approaching Fifty by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

Stationery by Agha Shahid Ali

 The poems are available from the Poetry Society and London Transport Museum.

Pilgrim by Eunice de Souza

The hills crawl with convoys.
Slow lights wind round
and down the dark ridges to yet another
termite city.
The red god rock
watches all that passes.
He spoke once.
The blood-red boulders
are his witness.
God rock, I'm a pilgrim.
Tell me -
Where does the heart find rest?

Eunice de Souza

Celebrating London's diversity

A leaflet of London Poems on the Underground is still available at some Tube stations and public libraries. The poems are in support of the Mayor, Sadiq Kahn's campaign, #LondonIsOpen.

The poems celebrate the wonderful diversity of our great city, its squares, parks and markets, its vibrant present and its glorious past, its places and people, including the immigrant communities which have so greatly enriched London life and culture.