Polish poems on the Tube


Czeslaw Milosz - Poems on the Underground
Blacksmith Shop by Czeslaw Milosz - click to view large

Those of you who live in London are probably familiar with Poems on the Underground, a Transport for London initiative to display short poems in Tube carriages. From tomorrow, you will also be able to read Polish poetry on London Underground as TfL is celebrating centenary of Czeslaw Milosz – a well-known Polish poet, writer and Nobel Prize winner.

The latest Poems on the Underground collection features Blacksmith Shop by Czeslaw Milosz himself, but also Nothing Special by Zbigniew Herbert and Star by Adam Zagajewski.

Milosz, who emigrated from Poland and subsequently became an American citizen and a lecturer at University of California, Berkeley, translated Herbert’s and Zagajewski’s poems into English. Zagajewski, who also left Poland for Paris, is best known for his post-9/11 poem, Try to Praise the Mutilated World.

Adam Zagajewski - poems on the Underground
Star by Adam Zagajewski - click to view large

Zbigniew Herbert was also one of the most recognisable and most cherished Polish poets. During WWII he became a member of the Polish resistance and in the 1980s he was a poet of the Polish opposition.

Judith Chernaik, the founder of Poems on the Underground, said:

“We hope that Londoners and visitors alike will enjoy this latest collection of poems which celebrate one of the greatest Polish poets of our time.”

The Poems on the Underground programme has been so successful other big cities – including Warsaw – have launched similar initiatives on their respective underground/metro systems.


Zbigniew Herbert - poems on the Underground
Nothing Special by Zbigniew Herbert - click to view large

But if you can’t spot any of the Polish poems on the Tube – or don’t travel on the Underground that often – you will be able to pick up a leaflet with the featured poems from five Tube stations: Embankment, Covent Garden, South Kensington, Russell Square and Moorgate. They will be available from June 10th.

UPDATE: Thanks to Transport for London I can now share with you the three Polish poems chosen to be displayed on the Tube. Click on the above images to read the poems. Those of you who want to learn more about the Tube can do so from the excellent Going Undergound’s blog by Annie Mole (who first let me know about TfL’s plans to display Polish poetry). 

4 thoughts on “Polish poems on the Tube

  1. Sounded a really nice idea. In Prague they had a page-a-day of a book posted in the underground. I only hope that it was for five day periods and not at the weekend – otherwise you’d miss out on the story! I wonder if any other tubes/undergrounds have done something similar.

  2. I read the poem of Zbigniew Herbert today. I read the first time and didn’t get it, read it once again and think it’s very nice. I like poems on the tube, especially that I’m travelling by the tube very rarely.

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