Some favourite poems

In difficult times, poetry seems more necessary than ever, a reminder that we all share common problems, common sources of consolation and joy. We hope you will enjoy the poems reprinted below.  We are featuring a set of Indian poems, with illustrations from David Gentleman’s India (by kind permission of the artist); Caribbean poems by poets with strong links across the West Indies; and Love Poems on a theme of universal appeal, across all times and places. 

You can go to ‘This Month’s Poems’ to see our new set of poems

You can find all the poems on our website listed here

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?'
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 '
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. '
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. '
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.

Caribbean Poems on the Underground

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'
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.
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.'
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'

Love Poems on the Underground

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.'
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.'

Our first set of poems, reprinted 30 years later

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'

Science Poems on the Underground

from Chinese Poems on the Underground

Music Poems on the Underground

Piano , D.H. Lawrence Music Poems on the Underground 'Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me; Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings. In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide. So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.'