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.

Celebrating Shakespeare 400

A new set of poems celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death will appear on London Underground from Monday 4 July. Three works by Shakespeare are featured:

Sonnet 116:

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediments..."

A popular love poem often featured in marriage ceremonies today - although Shakespeare hints that at least one of the loving partners is likely to stray, as in the famous definition of love: "It is the star to every wand'ring bark, /Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken."

Ariel's song, from The Tempest:

"Where the bee sucks, there suck I / In a cowslip's bell I lie"

A merry celebration of summer.

And more sober lines from King Lear, spoken by the aged king when he is driven into the storm by his ungrateful daughters:

"Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O! I have ta'en
Too little care of this..."

Also featured are three poems written in response to Shakespeare's works, by the Romantic poet Percy Shelley and by two contemporary poets, the distinguished Belfast poet Michael Longley and Carol Ann Duffy, poet laureate.

30 poems 30 years logo

30 years of poems

A set of Poems on the Underground celebrating the 30th anniversary has been displayed since January 2016. This set features the first five poems which launched Poems on the Underground in 1986, and a leaflet of 30 poems is free to the public at central London Tube stations.

Upcoming events

Wednesday 2 November at London Transport Museum: an evening of poetry and music reflecting on themes of war and peace, featuring a new commission for chamber forces by the composer Evelyn Ficarra, which includes lines in several languages by poets of the First World War, from poems featured by Poems on the Underground. Ticket details from London Transport Museum.


My Lines

My Buses

My Roads

My River Buses

My Emirates Air Line

My Journeys

My Places


    Favourite lines

    Favourite buses

    Favourite roads

    Favourite river buses

    Favourite Emirates Air Line

    Favourite journeys

    Favourite places