Poems on the Underground

124 Mansfield Road, London NW3 2JB
Tel: 020 7485 1930 February-March 2009

A new set of poems goes on display in 3,000 Tube carriages on 9th February 2009, in which we welcome the coming of spring, and celebrate love as it affects creatures young and old, lambs, larks, an old pit pony, a cuckoo and a tortoise, as well as ordinary men and women…
We hope Tube travellers will enjoy the poems by the Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, whose extraordinarily modern poems became known only long after his death; the excellent but neglected Scottish poet Andrew Young, the distinguished Welsh poet Menna Elfyn, the French poet Jacques Prevert, the Belfast poet Paul Muldoon, and writer-editor Judith Chernaik—whose ‘Tortoise’ is her first published poem.

Poems on the Underground, founded in 1986, is supported by London Underground, Arts Council England, and the British Council, now celebrating its 75th year. Poems are selected by Judith Chernaik and poets Gerard Benson and Cicely Herbert. Posters are available from the Poetry Society (www.poetrysociety.org.uk) and London’s Transport Museum, Covent Garden.

Publications: Poems on the Underground, 10th Edition (2001) and New Poems on the Underground 2006, published by Orion, are available from all bookshops and directly from Orion Books (www.orionbooks.co.uk). Carnival of the Animals, (Walker Books 2005) includes poems commissioned by Poems on the Underground, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura, with a CD of music and poems performed by the Apollo Chamber Orchestra, directed by David Chernaik.

Forthcoming event: Performances of Carnival of the Animals in the Southbank Centre ‘Imagine’ Children’s Literature Festival, in the Clore Ballroom, Festival Hall, onWed. Feb 18th at 11am and 2pm. Free.


(in memory of Stephanie Macleod)

They have their place, accessories:
earrings, the odd necklace,
gemstone bracelets…
and yet, it’s from the soft inner depth
we work the brooch of our lives,
that jewelled keepsake set to outlast us.
Yours, it was a brooch ablaze –
the passion-crafted clasp,
the light chain to keep it safe;
others, now, will wear your brooch –
this jewel fashioned from a golden heart.
It will catch the sun. It will dazzle us.

Menna Elfyn (b.1951)
translated from the Welsh by Elin ap Hywel

Reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe from Perfect Blemish: New & Selected Poems 1995-2007 (2007), © Menna Elfyn 1996; translation © Elin ap Hywel 1996