New Poems on the Underground Summer 2021

As we mark 35 years of Poems on the Underground, we are delighted to offer tube travellers a summer set of poems by an international range of poets.   

These poems can be found on London Underground cars throughout July.  

Remembering Summer by the American poet W.S. Merwin, from Garden Time (Bloodaxe Books 2016)

Her Glasses by Pascale Petit, who is of French/Welsh/Indian heritage.  Reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe Books from Tiger Girl (2020)

In the Bright Sleeve of the Sky from Deaf Republic (Faber 2019) by Ilya Kaminsky, who lost his hearing at the age of four – born in the Ukraine, emigrated with his family to America

Consider the Grass Growing by the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh. Reprinted from Collected Poems edited by Antoinette Quinn (Allen Lane, 2004) by kind permission of the Trustees of the Estate of the late Katherine B. Kavanagh, through the Jonathan Williams Literary Agency.

An epigram from The Greek Anthology by Anyte of Tegea, translated by David Constantine (‘Midsummer in the leaves there’s a murmuring breath of air’)

Black Ink by the Iraqi poet Fawzi Karim, from Incomprehensible Lesson (Carcanet 2019)

Remembering Summer, W.S. Merwin ‘Being too warm the old lady said to me is better than being too cold I think now in between is the best because you never give it a thought but it goes by too fast I remember the winter how cold it got I could never get warm wherever I was but I don’t remember the summer heat like that only the long days the breathing of the trees the evenings with the hens still talking in the lane and the light getting longer in the valley the sound of a bell from down there somewhere I can sit here now still listening to it’
Her Glasses, Pascale Petit ‘My grandmother’s glasses are a greenhouse behind which luxurious flowers grow, species I will never name, or find again. Her last glance back at her childhood jungle trembles there, watered by monsoons but I have never seen her cry. She closed the glass doors as I said goodbye. She waved at me as the taxi drove me away – her blinds came down against my fierce rays.’
In the Bright Sleeve of the Sky, Ilya Kaminsky ‘Is that you, little soul? Sometimes at night I light a lamp so as not to see. I tiptoe, Anushka drowsing in my palms: on my balding head, her bonnet.’
Consider the Grass Growing , Patrick Kavanagh ‘Consider the grass growing As it grew last year and the year before, Cool about the ankles like summer rivers, When we walked on a May evening through the meadows To watch the mare that was going to foal.’
from The Greek Anthology, Anyte of Tegea trans. David Constantine ‘Midsummer in the leaves there’s a murmuring breath of air. Among the roots a cold spring bubbles through. Wayfarer, weary to death, here is kindness to spare. Earthly, heavenly, as the tree lives, so may you.’
Black Ink, Fawzi Karim, in a version by Anthony Howell ‘The darkness of this night is greater Than the power of a sultan. Ink from my books, shelf upon shelf of them, Pours down the curtains. Every book is an overturned inkwell. Patience, I say. Day will dawn, And the colours will spill everywhere. Snatching up the brush, I try to paint the walls green, The curtains rosy pink, But now the waves come washing in: Blue – with light’s sporadic wink.’

You can see more Poems for July 2021 here