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.

The first series of poems for 2023 is now on trains. This set features classics from William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer, along with newer poems from writers like Kayo Chingonyi and Diana Anphimiadi. The poems touch on themes of love and yearning.

The poems are:

Truth by Geoffrey Chaucer

What I Know of the Sea by llhan Sami Çomak, translated by Caroline Stockford

For My Wife, Reading in Bed by John Glenday

an excerpt from The Winter's Tale  by William Shakespeare

 Bond by Diana Anphimiadi,  translated by Natalia Bukia-Peters and Jean Sprackland

[Clearance]  by Kayo Chingonyi


Your worldly possessions are gathering dust

in a storage unit off Goodmayes High Road.

No one will take the dressing table.

What need have we for these ornaments,

old textbooks, the wedding dress you never wore?