Poems on the Underground Poems from 2013 to 2021

Sets of Poems on the Underground posters displayed on London Underground from 2013 to 2021

You can see a list of all the poems on the Underground from 2013-2021 here

You can see all the posters by scrolling down below

2013: A year-long celebration of 150 years of London Underground

Set 84 February 2013 : London Then and Now

from The Prelude, William Wordsworth ‘The river proudly bridged, the giddy top And Whispering Gallery of St Paul’s, the tombs Of Westminster, the Giants of Guildhall,’
Vacillation, W. B Yeats ‘My fiftieth year had come and gone, I sat, a solitary man, In a crowded London shop, An open book and empty cup On the marble table-top.’
Stations, Connie Bensley ‘As he travels home on the Northern Line he is reviewing his marriage.’
Gherkin Music, Jo Shapcott ‘walk the spiral up out of the pavement into your own reflection, into transparency, into the space where flat planes are curves and you are transposed’
Barter, Nii Ayikwei Parkes ‘That first winter alone, the true meaning Barter of all the classroom rhymes that juggled snow and go, old and cold, acquired new leanings.’
Bam Chi Chi La La London, 1969, Lorna Goodison ‘In Jamaica she was a teacher. Here, she is charwoman at night in the West End. She eats a cold midnight meal carried from home’

Set 85 June 2013: London in motion

London Poems on the Underground From Jerusalem, William Blake. The fields from Islington to Marylebone, To Primrose Hill and Saint John's Wood,
At Lord’s, Francis Thompson ‘It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk, Though my own red roses there may blow;’
Buses on the Strand, R. P. Lister ‘The Strand is beautiful with buses, Fat and majestical in form, Red like tomatoes in their trusses In August, when the sun is warm.’
The Conversation of Old Men, Thom Gunn ‘He feels a breeze rise from the Thames, as far off as Rotherhithe, in intimate contact with water, slimy hulls,’
Our Meetings, Andrew Waterman ‘As in the Underground there’s no mistaking the train’s approach, it pushes air ahead, whirls paper, the line sings, a sort-of dread suffusing longing and my platform shaking – so it is before our every meeting, till you arrive. Hear how my heart is beating! ‘
Moment in a Peace March, Grace Nichols ‘A holy multitude pouring Moment in a Peace March through the gates of Hyde Park – A great hunger repeated in cities all over the world’

Set 86 October 2013 : London Underground 150

London Poems on the Underground  Composed upon Westminster Bridge, William Wordsworth. Earth has not anything to show more fair:
from Summoned by Bells by John Betjeman Poems on the Underground 2013 ‘Great was our joy, Ronald Hughes Wright's and mine, To travel by the Underground all day Between the rush hours, so that very soon There was no station, north to Finsbury Park, To Barking eastwards, Clapham Common south, No temporary platform in the west Among the Actons and the Ealings, where We had not once alighted.'

Spooner Goes Under, Brian O’Connor ‘Stamp Head Wedge Air Stooge Greet Shammer Myth Flak Briars Straker Beat’
On the Thames, Karen McCarthy Woolf ‘The houseboat tilts into the water at low tide, ducklings slip in mud. Nothing is stable in this limbo summer, where he leaves his shoes in the flat.’
Thankyou London Underground, John Hegley ‘Tufnell Park and Camden Town Where Air Raid huddles laid them down.’

Set 87 January 2014: Greek Poems and Poets

Love Poems on the Underground As a gale on the mountainside Sappho, tr. Cicely Herbert; This Place is Aphrodite’s Anyte of Tegea, tr. Peter Constantine.
Ionian song, C.P. Cavafy tr. Rae Dalven ' Though we have broken their statues, though we have driven them out of their temples, the gods did not die because of this. O Ionian land, it is you they still love, it is you their souls still remember.'
from Amorgos, Nikos Gatsos ' How much I have loved you I alone know I who touched you once with the eyes of the Pleiades And embraced you in the wild hair of the moon and we danced in the summer fields On the stubble after harvest, and we ate the cut clover Dark and great sea with so many pebbles round your neck, so many coloured stones in your hair'
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer , John Keats ' Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.'
from Don Juan, Byron 'The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece! Where burning Sappho loved and sung, Where grew the arts of war and peace, Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung! Eternal summer gilds them yet, But all, except their sun, is set.'
Theo Dorgan, Bread Dipped in Olive Oil and Salt 'Bread dipped in olive oil and salt, a glass of rough dry white. A table beside the evening sea where you sit shelling pistachios,'

Set 88 June 2014: Welsh Poems and Poets

From Fern Hill, Dylan Thomas ‘Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,’
Mysteries, Dannie Abse ‘At night, I do not know who I am when I dream, when I am sleeping. Awakened, I hold my breath and listen: a thumbnail scratches the other side of the wall.’
In a Young Time, Gerard Benson ‘ In a young time it was skipping and sunlight and the world was acres and there was plunder.’
Small Brown Job, Gwyneth Lewis ‘May you be led on all your walks By an unidentified bird Flitting ahead, at least one branch, The tease, between you And it. Is that an eyeStripe? Epaulette? Your desire For a name grows stronger.’
Skirrid Fawr, Owen Sheers ' Just like the farmers who once came to scoop handfuls of soil from her holy scar, so am I still drawn to her back for the answers to every question I have never known.'

Set 89 October 2014 : War Poems

In Memoriam (Easter 1915), Edward Thomas ' The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood This Eastertide call into mind the men, Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should Have gathered them and will do never again.'
Bach and the Sentry, Ivor Gurney 'Watching the dark my spirit rose in flood On that most dearest Prelude of my delight. The low-lying mist lifted its hood, The October stars showed nobly in clear night. When I return, and to real music-making, And play that Prelude, how will it happen then? Shall I feel as I felt, a sentry hardly waking, With a dull sense of No Man's Land again?'
The General , Siegfried Sassoon ' Good-morning, good-morning!” the General said When we met him last week on our way to the line. Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead, And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine. “He's a cheery old card,” grunted Harry to Jack As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack. But he did for them both by his plan of attack.'
Fratelli/Brothers, Giuseppe Ungaretti , tr. Patrick Creagh ' What regiment are you from brothers? Word trembling in the night A leaf just opening In the racked air involuntary revolt of man face to face with his own fragility Brothers Mariano 15 July 2016'
Im Osten / In the East , Georg Trakl, tr. David Constantine 'Like the wild organ music of the winter storm Is the dark rage of the people The crimson wave of battle, Of leafless stars. With broken brows, with silver arms Night beckons to dying soldiers. In the shadow of the autumnal ash The ghosts of the slain are sighing. A thorny wilderness girdles the town. The moon harries the terrified women From bleeding steps. Wild wolves broke through the gate.'
La Petite Auto/The Little Car by Guillaume Apollinaire, tr. the Editors ' On the 31st of August 1914 I left Deanville shortly before midnight In Rouveyre's little car With his driver there were three of us We said goodbye to a whole epoch Angry giants reared over Europe Eagles left their eyries to wait for the sun Voracious fish rose from the abyss Nations rushed to know one another through and through In their dark dwellings the dead trembled with fear '

Set 90 January 2015:  Yeats 150 (throughout 2015) and Irish Poetry

Set 91 Yeats 150 Summer Poems on the Underground June 2015

When you are Old, W. B. Yeats ' When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;'
Westron wynde when wylt thou blow, Anon 'Westron wynde when wylt thou blow the small rain down can rain Christ that my love were in my arms and I in my bed again'
Cuts, Sam Riviere ' I can see that things have gotten pretty bad our way of life threatened by financiers assortments of phoneys and opportunists and very soon the things we cherish most will likely be taken from us the wine from our cellars our silk gowns and opium but tell me what do you expect Chung Ling Soo much ridiculed conjurer of the court and last of the dynasty of brooms to do about it?'
Had I not been awake, Seamus Heaney ' Had I not been awake I would have missed it, A wind that rose and whirled off the roof Pattered with quick leaves off the sycamore'
Stationery, Agha Shahid Ali ' The moon did not become the sun. It just fell on the desert in great sheets, reams of silver handmade by you. The night is your cottage industry now, the day is your brisk emporium. The world is full of paper. Write to me. '
From Labour Ward, Anna T. Szabo 'Oh child, you dead weight, you hot iron, you stone, come forth now, I beg you, creep out on your own. You stretch me apart, I am stretching you too. Slither out now, my faceless one, you!'

Set 92 October 2015:  Young Poets on the Underground

Playtime, Matt Broomfield ‘afterwards, with the children, on the rusted iron swing it does not seem so bad’
Boy, Imogen Cassels ‘The boy who sits on bins becomes a chough, admires the sight of his red beak against the wall.’
Circulation, Laura Harray ‘Here is London’s circulation system, dissection points of the city’s veins.’
An Irish Airman foresees his Death, W.B. Yeats ’ I know that I shall meet my fate Somewhere among the clouds above; Those that I fıght I do not hate, Those that I guard I do not love;’
The Sloth, Theodore Roethke ‘In moving-slow he has no Peer. You ask him something in his Ear, He thinks about it for a Year;’
Bam Chi Chi La La London, 1969, Lorna Goodison ‘In Jamaica she was a teacher. Here, she is charwoman at night in the West End. She eats a cold midnight meal carried from home’

Set 93 January 2016: Repeat of our first set for 30th anniversary of Poems on the Underground 1986

This Is Just To Say , William Carlos Williams 'I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold'

Set 94 July 2016 Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary

Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare ' Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments; love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove'
Ariel's Song from The Tempest, William Shakespeare 'Where the bee sucks, there suck I; In a cowslip's bell I lie; There I couch when owls do cry'
From King Lear, William Shakespeare ' Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are, That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you From seasons such as these?'
With a Guitar To Jane, P.B. Shelley 'Ariel to Miranda:- Take This slave of music for the sake Of him who is the slave of thee; And teach it all the harmony, In which thou canst, and only thou, Make the delighted spirit glow,'
Hour, Carol Ann Duffy ‘Love’s time’s beggar, but even a single hour, bright as a dropped coin, makes love rich. We find an hour together, spend it not on flowers or wine, but the whole of the summer sky and a grass ditch.’
The Sonnets, Michael Longley 'The soldier-poet packed into his kitbag His spine-protector, socks, soap, latherbrush (Though he was not then a regular shaver)'

Set 95 November 2016: London is Open

A Trojan horse in Trafalgar Square George Szirtes ‘We stood in Trafalgar Square completely covered in pigeons but looking all too pleased to find such wholehearted acceptance. We were the boys of the awkward squad, growing at an angle.’
London Fields, Michael Rosen ‘Evening falls between the trees The drumming for Ghana fills the leaves’
Chilling Out Beside the Thames, John Agard ‘Summer come, mi chill-out beside the Thames. Spend a little time with weeping willow.’
Our Town with the Whole of India, Daljit Nagra 'Our town in England with the whole of India sundering out of its temples, mandirs and mosques for the customised streets. Our parade, clad in cloak-orange with banners and tridents, chanting from station to station for Vaisakhi over Easter. Our full-moon madness for Eidh with free pavement tandooris and legless dancing to boostered cars. Our Guy Fawkes’ Diwali – a kingdom of rockets for the Odysseus-trials of Rama who arrowed the jungle foe to re-palace the Penelope-faith of his Sita. '
No.3 from Uses for the Thames, Jane Draycott ‘The test was to dip the needles into the dark of the swallowing mirror’
from Autumn Journal, Louis MacNeice ‘September has come, it is hers Whose vitality leaps in the autumn, Whose nature prefers Trees without leaves and a fire in the fireplace . . .’

Set 96 February 2017: International poetry by Israeli, Palestinian, Italian and British poets

Green the land of my poem, Mahmoud Darwish ‘Green the land of my poem is green and high Slowly I tell it slowly with the grace of a seagull riding the waves on the book of water I bequeath it written down to the one who asks to whom shall we sing when salt poisons the dew?’
Ein Yahav from “Israeli Travel: Otherness is All, Otherness is Love” Yehuda Amichai Translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld ‘ A night drive to Ein Yahav in the Arava Desert, a drive in the rain. Yes, in the rain.’
And suddenly it’s evening, Salvatore Quasimodo Translated by Jack Bevan ‘Everyone is alone on the heart of the earth pierced by a ray of sun: and suddenly it’s evening.’
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun, William Shakespeare ‘Fear no more the heat o’ the sun, Nor the furious winter’s rages;’
Delay, Elizabeth Jennings ‘The radiance of that star that leans on me Was shining years ago. The light that now Glitters up there my eye may never see,’
Funeral Blues, W.H. Auden ‘Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,’

Set 97 August 2017: Indian Poems on the Underground

Pilgrim ,Eunice de Souza 'The hills crawl with convoys. Slow lights wind round and down the dark ridges to yet another termite city. The red god rock watches all that passes. He spoke once. The blood-red boulders are his witness.. God rock, I'm a pilgrim. Tell me- Where does the heart find rest?'
This Morning, Mona Arshi ' There's a beginning of a thread like saffron strands on my mother's hands on six yards of white cotton I'm in the garden, almost forgotten beside the impossible flowers.
Today , Sujata Bhatt ' The fourth candle has been lit. How can you be in exile when you live with the one you love? Our Chinese Schiller stands by the window. Outside, three crows ignore a snowman. The fourth candle has been lit. These flames make us linger, these flames slip into our words- Today, it's Händel on the radio- and the northern sun is still strong. '
The Butterfly, Arun Kolatkar ' There is no story behind it. It is split like a second. It hinges round itself. It has no future. It is pinned down to no past. It's a pun on the present. It's a little yellow butterfly. It has taken these wretched hills under its wings. Just a pinch of yellow, it opens before it closes and closes before it o where is it '
Approaching Fifty, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra ' Sometimes, In unwiped bathroom mirrors He sees all three faces Looking at him: His own, The grey-haired man's Whose life policy has matured, And the mocking youth's Who paid the first premium. '

Stationery, Agha Shahid Ali ' The moon did not become the sun. It just fell on the desert in great sheets, reams of silver handmade by you. The night is your cottage industry now, the day is your brisk emporium. The world is full of paper. Write to me. '

Set 98 February 2018 editors’ choice (with two Foyle Young Poets of the Year)

Layers of Kant reveal: Safrina Ahmed Winner, Foyle Young Poets, 2011 Celebrating 20 years of The Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award ‘The clouded mind is Kant without his hair extensions, his eyelash curler. We met last night and he was like Christmas, sad, a tree.’
Astral Enlightenment, Kyle Spencer Commended, Foyle Young Poets, 2017 Celebrating 20 years of The Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. ‘a lucid dream is not a simple concoction of the mind i was not flying, but falling rapidly into welcoming arms of a cheering audience’
Grasmere Journal, 1801, Sinéad Morrissey ‘A beautiful cloudless morning. My toothache better.’
Look there he goes even now, my father, Daljit Nagra ‘Look there he goes even now, my father, into some other world, all my life I have been harbour-struck trying to make him appear’
Love, Hannah Lowe ‘Mornings, we’d find salmon bagels from Brick Lane, Char siu buns and Soho flower rolls, A box of Motichoor’
A Date on Sunday, Antanas Šimkus A white feather, dust, Dance of wind before the rain.
Cuckoo, Fujiwara no Toshinari ‘Has it flown away, The cuckoo that called Waking me at midnight?’

Set 99 August 2018 : Windrush 70, A Celebration of Caribbean poetry

A dream of leavin, James Berry ' Man, so used to notn, this is a dream I couldn't dream of dreamin so - I scare I might wake up. One day I would be Englan bound! A travel would have me on sea not chained down below, every tick of clock, but free, man! Free like tourist! Never see me coulda touch world of Englan - when from all accounts I hear that is where all we prosperity end up. I was always in a dream of leavin. My half-finished house was on land where work-laden ancestors' bones lay. The old plantation land still stretch-out down to the sea, giving grazing to cattle.'
History and Away, Andrew Salkey 'What we do with time and what time does with us is the way of history, spun down around our feet. So we say today, that we meet our Caribbean shadow just as it follows the sun, away into the curve of tomorrow. In fact our sickle of islands and continental strips are mainlands of time with our own marks on them, yesterday, today and tomorrow.'
dreamer, Jean Binta Breeze 'roun a rocky corner by de sea seat up pon a drif wood yuh can fine she gazin cross de water a stick eena her han tryin to trace a future in de san'

Dew, Kwame Dawes ' This morning I took the dew from the broad leaf of the breadfruit tree, and washed the sleep from my eyes.
I am Becoming My Mother, Lorna Goodison ' Yellow/brown woman fingers smelling always of onions My mother raises rare blooms and waters them with tea'
Epilogue , Grace Nichols ' I have crossed an ocean I have lost my tongue from the roots of the old one a new one has sprung'

Set 100 November 2018: Armistice, November 1918

Thaw, Edward Thomas ' Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed The speculating rooks at their nests cawed And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flowers of grass, What we below could not see, Winter pass'
Heroes, Kathleen Raine ' This war's dead heroes, who has seen them? They rise, in smoke above the burning city, Faint clouds, dissolving into sky'
Armistice Day, Charles Causley 'I stood with three comrades in Parliament Square, November her grey freights of fire unloading, '
The place where we are right, Yehuda Amichai ' From the place where we are right flowers will never grow in the spring. the place where we are right is hard and trampled like a yard'
Inscription for a War, A.D. Hope ' Linger not, stranger; shed no tear; Go back to those who sent us here. We are the young they drafted out To wars their folly brought about'

Set 101 February 2019 :  Love, then and now

The Present, Michael Donaghy ' For the present there is just one moon, though every level pond gives back another .But the bright disc shining in the black lagoon, perceived by astrophysicist and lover ,is milliseconds old. And even that light's seven minutes older than its source. And the stars we think we see on moonless nights are long extinguished. And, of course, this very moment, as you read this line, is literally gone before you know it. Forget the here-and-now. We have no time but this device of wantonness and wit. Make me this present then: your hand in mine, and we'll live out our lives in it.'
India, Jane Draycott ' At the gates of the fabulous city of gold out of the blue he told her the truth and the whole world tipped, was dipped in sudden indigo like a late-running messenger or working beyond dark in the fields.'

Set 102 July 2019: : The Natural World

The Meaning of Existence, Les Murray ' Everything except language knows the meaning of existence. Trees, planets, rivers, time know nothing else.'
Still Life with Sea Pinks and High Tide, Maura Dooley 'Thrift grows tenacious at the tide's reach. What is that reach when the water is rising, rising?'
Charles Causley, I am the Song ' I am the song that sings the bird. I am the leaf that grows the land. I am the tide that moves the moon. I am the stream that halts the sand.'
The Shaft, Helen Dunmore ' I don't need to go to the sun- It lies on my pillow. Without movement or speech Day deepens its sweetness.'
My life closed twice before its close, Emily Dickinson 'My life closed twice before its close- It yet remains to see If immortality unveil A third event to me,'

Set 103 November 2019: : Time and memory

To- P.B. Shelley 'Music, when soft voices die, Vibrates in the memory – Odours, when sweet violets sicken, Live within the sense they quicken. Rose leaves, when the rose is dead, Are heaped for the beloved’s bed; And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone, Love itself shall slumber on.'
All Souls' Night, Frances Cornford 'My love came back to me Under the November tree Shelterless and dim. He put his hand upon my shoulder, He did not think me strange or older, Nor I, him.'
My Father, Yehuda Amichai 'The memory of my father is wrapped up in white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work. Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits out of his hat, he drew love from his small body, and the rivers of his hands overflowed with good deeds.'
And suddenly it’s evening, Salvatore Quasimodo Translated by Jack Bevan ‘Everyone is alone on the heart of the earth pierced by a ray of sun: and suddenly it’s evening.’
Diary by Katrina Naomi 'Her diary the way the words hurry intoeachother and then apart- as the days and her body lost out I took the diary from her bedside did nothing else no sorting of clothes touched nothing of hers save the diary, reading how she wrote across days and off the edge of the page'
For the House Sparrow, in Decline, Paul Farley ' Your numbers fall and it's tempting to think you're deserting our suburbs and estates like your cousins at Pompeii;'

Set 104 February 2020: Love and Nature, youth and age

Set 105 August 2020 : Poems of hope in difficult times

And if I speak of Paradise, Roger Robinson ‘And if I speak of Paradise then I’m speaking of my grandmother who told me to carry it always on my person, concealed, so no one else would know but me.’
Cordón from ‘Montevideo’, Laura Chalar Translated by Erica Mena With gray fingers the rain comes sketching the trees.
Everything Changes, Cicely Herbert ‘Everything changes. We plant trees for those born later but what’s happened has happened, and poisons poured into the seas cannot be drained out again.’
London Fields, Michael Rosen ‘Evening falls between the trees The drumming for Ghana fills the leaves’
Note,  Leanne O’Sullivan If we become separated from each other this evening try to remember the last time you saw me and go back and wait for me there.

Time to be slow, John O’Donohue ‘This is the time to be slow, Lie low to the wall Until the bitter weather passes’

Set 106 October/November 2020 : Poems for Black History Month

Naima for John Coltrane, Kamau Brathwaite 'Propped against the crowded bar he pours into the curved and silver horn his old unhappy longing for a home'
Benediction, James Berry 'Thanks to the ear that someone may hear Thanks to seeing that someone may see'
I am Becoming My Mother, Lorna Goodison ' Yellow/brown woman fingers smelling always of onions My mother raises rare blooms and waters them with tea'
I Sing of Change Niyi Osundare I sing of the beauty of Athens without its slaves Of a world free of kings and queens and other remnants of an arbitrary past
BOM Mumbai Airport, Nick Makoha 'This far East your thoughts are the edge of the world. It will not be the last time that you walk through a door hoping to return'
Dew, Kwame Dawes ' This morning I took the dew from the broad leaf of the breadfruit tree, and washed the sleep from my eyes.

Set 107 February 2021 : John Keats. Bicentenary of his death

from Endymion, John Keats A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing. Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing A flowery band to bind us to the earth, Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth Of noble natures, of the gloomy days, Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all, Some shape of beauty moves away the pall From our dark spirits.

When I have fears that I may cease to be, John Keats When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain, Before high-piled books, in charact’ry, Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain; When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face, Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, And think that I may never live to trace Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance; And when I feel, fair creature of an hour! That I shall never look upon thee more, Never have relish in the faery power Of unreflecting love!--then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
from Adonais, Percy Bysshe Shelley He is made one with Nature: there is heard His voice in all her music, from the moan Of thunder, to the song of night’s sweet bird; He is a presence to be felt and known In darkness and in light, from herb and stone, Spreading itself where’er that Power may move Which has withdrawn his being to its own; Which wields the world with never wearied love, Sustains it from beneath, and kindles it above.
Wish You Were Here, Julia Fiedorczuk , translated by Bill Johnston I open the window to let you in, rain, and your forceful breath startles the curtain, smelling of moss, forming droplets on my lips.
Rising, Jean Binta Breeze having some summers gone dug out that old tree stump that darkened my garden having waited without planting (for it was impossible then to choose the growth) having lost the dream but not the art of healing having released the roots of pain into content I now stir the skies
I go inside the tree, Jo Shapcott Indoors for this ash is through the bark: notice its colour – asphalt or slate in the rain then go inside, tasting weather in the tree rings, scoffing years of drought and storm, moving as fast as a woodworm who finds a kick of speed for burrowing into the core, for mouthing pith and sap, until the o my god at the heart.

Set 108 July 2021 International Poets

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.’