September Poems on the Underground

As children return to school and we move cautiously towards a ‘new normal,’ we hope you will enjoy our poems for September. This month we feature poems by Welsh poets, a group of poems from 2011 celebrating our 25th year on the tube, light-hearted favourites about animals and lovers, ‘Young Poets on the Underground,’ specially chosen with the Poetry Society, poems reflecting on youth and age, and more favourites from our  varied collection.

Welsh Poems on the Underground

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.’
Six Bells, Gillian Clarke ‘Perhaps a woman hanging out the wash paused, hearing something, a sudden hush, a pulse inside the earth like a blow to the heart,’
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.’

Celebrating 25 years of Poems on the Underground

For the Life of This Planet, Grace Nichols ‘ The way the red sun surrenders its wholeness to curving ocean bit by bit. The way curving ocean gives birth to the birth of stars in the growing darkness, wearing everything in its path to cosmic smoothness’
Loving the rituals, Palladas (4th century AD) tr. Tony Harrison ‘Loving the rituals that keep men close, Nature created means for friends apart: pen, paper, ink, the alphabet, signs for the distant and disconsolate heart.’
Lines 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.
Riddle, Gerard Benson ‘ I was the cause of great troubles, yet, resting among leaves, I did nothing wrong.’

Colmcille the Scribe from the Irish, c.11th century, Seamus Heaney ‘My hand is cramped from penwork. My quill has a tapered point. Its bird-mouth issues a blue-dark Beetle-sparkle of ink.’
Lines to a Movement in Mozart’s E-flat Symphony, Thomas Hardy ‘Show me again the time When in the Junetide’s prime We flew by meads and mountains northerly! – Yea, to such freshness, fairness, fullness, fineness, freeness, Love lures life on….’

A few light-hearted Favourite Poems on the Underground

Cuckoo, Fujiwara no Toshinari ‘Has it flown away, The cuckoo that called Waking me at midnight?’
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;’
Tortoise, Judith Chernaik ' Under the mottled shell of the old tortoise beats the heart of a young dancer. '
There was an Old Man of Blackheath by Edward Lear ‘There was an Old Man of Blackheath Whose head was adorned with a Wreath, Of lobsters and spice, Pickled onions and mice, That uncommon Old Man of Blackheath.’
Under the greenwood tree, William Shakespeare ‘Under the greenwood tree Who loves to lie with me, And turn his merry note Unto the sweet bird’s throat, ‘

Young Poets on the Underground

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’
Boy, Imogen Cassels ‘The boy who sits on bins becomes a chough, admires the sight of his red beak against the wall.’
Playtime, Matt Broomfield ‘afterwards, with the children, on the rusted iron swing it does not seem so bad’
Circulation, Laura Harray ‘Here is London’s circulation system, dissection points of the city’s veins.’

Poems of Youth and Age

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,’
No.3 from Uses for the Thames, Jane Draycott ‘The test was to dip the needles into the dark of the swallowing mirror’
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’
The Way We Go, Katherine Towers  ‘ the way we go about our lives trying out each empty room like houses we might own’

More Favourite Poems on the Underground

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 . . .’
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.’
A Date on Sunday, Antanas Šimkus A white feather, dust, Dance of wind before the rain.
The Thunderbolt’s Training Manual, Danielle Hope ‘Choose a soporific afternoon. As sunbathers doze, saturday papers abandoned.’
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,’
Grasmere Journal, 1801, Sinéad Morrissey ‘A beautiful cloudless morning. My toothache better.’

Poems displayed in June can be found on our ‘June Poems‘ page

Poems displayed in July can be found on our ‘July Poems‘ page

Poems displayed in August can be found on our ‘August Poems’ page

Poems displayed earlier can be found on our ‘Favourite Poems’ page