This Month’s Poems

After being paused since March, we’re delighted to be back on the Tube in August, featuring wonderful poets from Ireland (Leanne O’Sullivan and the late John O’Donohue), Uruguay (Laura Chalar), our own Cicely Herbert and Londoner Michael Rosen, and the distinguished Trinidadian/British Roger Robinson.  These poems from places far and near offer hope in difficult times, as well as consolation for loss. We also include below poems celebrating London and its famous Underground, as well as some of our special favourites.

A free leaflet reprinting several of these poems is available at London tube stations. You can download a copy of the leaflet here

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

August Poems on the Underground

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

London Poems on the Underground

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’
In the Heart of Hackney, Sebastian Barker ‘Behold, a swan. Ten houseboats on the Lee. A cyclist on the towpath. Gentle rain.’
Chilling Out Beside the Thames, John Agard ‘Summer come, mi chill-out beside the Thames. Spend a little time with weeping willow.’
Love, Hannah Lowe ‘Mornings, we’d find salmon bagels from Brick Lane, Char siu buns and Soho flower rolls, A box of Motichoor’
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.’
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;’
Viv, Faustin Charles Like the sun rising and setting Like the thunderous roar of a bull rhino Like the sleek, quick grace of a gazelle,
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.’
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’
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.’
London Poems on the Underground From Jerusalem, William Blake. The fields from Islington to Marylebone, To Primrose Hill and Saint John's Wood,

Celebrating 150 years of London Underground

Thankyou London Underground, John Hegley ‘Tufnell Park and Camden Town Where Air Raid huddles laid them down.’
from Summoned by Bells, John Betjeman ‘Great was our joy, Ronald Hughes Wright’s and mine, To travel by the Underground all day’
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! ‘
Stations, Connie Bensley ‘As he travels home on the Northern Line he is reviewing his marriage.’
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.’
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’

Some special favourites

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,’
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?’
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.’
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.’

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 earlier can be found on our ‘Favourite Poems’ page