As we mark the 160th anniversary of London Underground, a new set of Poems on the Underground goes live on London Underground and Overground cars on Monday 27 February 2023, for four weeks.
Londoners will be greeted by a favourite Shakespearean heroine, Perdita, as she welcomes the flowers of spring: ‘Daffodils, that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty’ – from The Winter’s Tale.
Chaucer appears alongside Shakespeare in his ballad Truth (‘Flee from the press and dwell with truthfulness’) – as relevant today as it was in the 14th century.
Four poets new to the tube are also featured, in poems of love, separation and exile:
What I know of the sea by İlhan Sami Çomak , a Kurdish poet writing from a Turkish prison, where he has been held for 29 years. His poems are translated by Caroline Stockford. ‘What I know of love is so little! Yet I’m constantly thinking of you!’
Bond by Diana Anphimiadi, a Georgian poet of Greek ancestry, translated by Natalia Bukia-Peters and Jean Sprackland: ‘When I leave, your words follow – you are mine! You know I’ll always come back.’
For My Wife, Reading in Bed by the Scottish poet John Glenday: ‘What else do we have but words and their absences / to bind and unfasten the knotwork of the heart?’
[Clearance] by the Zambian-born British poet Kayo Chingonyi, a light-hearted take on dispossession: ‘What need have we for these ornaments, old textbooks, the wedding dress you never wore?’
Poems on the Underground is supported generously by TfL, Arts Council England and The British Council.
from The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
What I know of the sea by İlhan Sami Çomak translated by Caroline Stockford
Truth by Geoffrey Chaucer
For My Wife, Reading in Bed by John Glenday
Bond by Diana Anphimiadi translated by Natalia Bukia-Peters and Jean Sprackland
Clearance by Kayo Chingonyi
You can see the rest of our poems from this month here