Ode to spring on the Tube

06 February 2009
"We hope that customers will enjoy the new spring poems and that they will brighten their journey"

We hope that customers will enjoy the new spring poems and that they will brighten their journey

The collection of poems celebrates the coming of spring, love - present and past, and a variety of young and old creatures.

For the first time, writer-editor Judith Chernaik - who has been choosing the poems for the Poems on the Underground programme for more than 23 years - has contributed a poem. Tortoise, Chernaik's first and only published poem was originally commissioned for a performance of Saint-Saëns's famous piece of classical music Carnival of the Animals. 

The other verses are by poets from across the British Isles and beyond and include poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins who was born in Stratford, East London and went to school in Highgate, Andrew Young from Scotland, Welsh poet Menna Elfyn, French poet Jacques Prévert and Belfast poet Paul Muldoon. 

Tamsin Dillon, Head of Art on the Underground, said: 'We hope that customers will enjoy the new spring poems and that they will brighten their journey.'

Judith Chernaik, founder of Poems on the Underground, said: 'It's a real privilege to have my only published poem on the Tube. I'm looking forward to seeing how people react to it while on their daily commute.'

Notes to editors:

  • The new set of poems are Repeat that, repeat by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89), A Prehistoric Camp by Andrew Young (1885-1971), Alicante by Jacques Prévert (1900-77) translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tortoise by Judith Chernaik (b.1934) illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura, An Old Pit Pony by Paul Muldoon (b.1951) and Brooch by Menna Elfyn (b.1951)
  • Poems on the Underground was founded in 1986
  • The programme is supported by London Underground and Arts Council England
  • Poems are selected and the programme administered by writer Judith Chernaik and poets Gerard Benson and Cicely Herbert
  • Praised for their elegance, clarity and simplicity, Poems on the Underground has inspired similar programmes on public transport in Dublin, Paris, New York, Vienna, Stockholm, Helsinki, Athens, Barcelona, Moscow, St Petersburg and, most recently, Shanghai
  • The best-selling anthologies Poems on the Underground, Cassell 2001, and New Poems on the Underground 2006, Cassell 2006, and children's book Carnival of the Animals, Walker 2006, are available from good bookshops and London Transport Museum
  • The posters, designed by Tom Davidson, are available from London Transport Museum and are distributed by the Poetry Society and the British Council to schools and libraries here and abroad
  • Forthcoming event: Performances of Carnival of the Animals in the Southbank Centre 'Imagine' Children's Literature Festival, in the Clore Ballroom, Festival Hall, on Wednesday 18 February at 11:00 and 14:00. Free
  • London Underground (LU) is undertaking a major programme of renewal as part of Transport for London's (TfL) Investment Programme. This will inevitably result in some disruption for passengers, but TfL is working hard to provide information and alternative travel options. The work is essential to provide for London's growing transport needs now, and into the future. TfL is urging all Londoners and Tube, London Overground and DLR passengers to check before they travel at weekends, allowing extra journey time where necessary.