Poems on the Underground

The Poetry Society and Poems on the Underground join forces to promote one of Britain’s most successful public art projects. As well as being displayed on underground trains throughout the capital, school members of The Poetry Society receive a set of Poems on the Underground posters each time they are released.

Poems are selected by Judith Chernaik, Cicely Herbert and Imtiaz Dharker, who has recently joined the project. The posters are designed by Tom Davidson, and the project is generously supported by London Underground (TfL), Arts Council England and the British Council.

Individual posters, or sets of posters, are available through the Poetry Society shop: we ask for £3.50 for an individual poster or £9.99 for a set in order to cover the storage, handling, UK postage and packing costs. If you live overseas, the charge will increase in order to cover additional postage costs.  You can also find them at the London Transport Museum.

A free leaflet of ’30 Poems for 30 Years’, published in celebration of Poems on the Underground’s
30 years, is available from London Transport Museum and selected tube stations.

Poems on the Underground (Penguin 2015) is available in paperback from all good bookshops.

Poems on The Underground Set 96

Our first tube poems in 2017 celebrate three major international poets of the 20th century: the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000), the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008) and the Italian poet Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-1968), The poems go live on the tube on Feb 27 for four weeks.

We’re also marking the anniversary of W.H. Auden, born on Feb 21, 1907. One of the most  distinguished British poets of our time, he wrote memorably about the late 20th-century as “The Age of Anxiety.”  He lived for several years in New York, eventually taking American citizenship. International in his outlook, he travelled in Iceland and China, served in the Spanish Civil War, and in his last years lived in Oxford, Italy and Austria.

Shakespeare’s poetry is also featured. He was born in April 1564 in Stratford, and died in 1616, also in Stratford. His working life was in London, and although there is no record of Shakespeare travelling abroad, his vast reading included works translated into English from Greek and Latin, Italian and French. His plays range across time and place. Their settings include Scotland, early Britain, medieval Denmark, Rome, Venice and Verona, Athens and Alexandria, Bohemia, and island paradises which could be anywhere in the world.

One of the most popular poems in our series is reprinted in this set: ‘Delay’ by the English poet Elizabeth Jennings, (1926-2001). Though she lived in Oxford, she was international in her interests. She travelled often in Italy and translated poems by Michelangelo.

The poems:

‘Fear no more the heat o’ the sun’ by Shakespeare, a song from Cymbeline

‘Green the land of my poem’ from ‘Mural’  by Mahmoud Darwish, translated from Arabic by Rema Hammami and John Berger

‘Ein Yahav’ from ‘Israeli Travel: Otherness is All, Otherness is Love’ by Yehuda Amichai, translated from Hebrew by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld

‘Funeral Blues’ by W.H. Auden, dedicated to the cabaret singer Hedli Anderson

‘Delay’  by Elizabeth Jennings

‘And suddenly it’s evening’  by Salvatore Quasimodo, translated by Jack Bevan, with the Italian original


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