In Competition No. 2907 you were invited to imagine that poets, living or dead, had been recruited to compose verse discouraging antisocial behaviour on the underground.
This challenge was prompted by the results of Transport for London’s real-life efforts to use poetry to prompt Tube users to mind their manners: the poems in question feature rhyme and scansion that would have made McGonagall blush.
Over to the experts, then. Adrian Fry’s Emily Dickinson — ‘Because I would not mind the gap’ — was an impressive runner-up, as were Charles Clive-Ponsonby-Fane, Mike Morrison and Alanna Blake. The winners, printed below, pocket £15 each.
Come friendly bombs, and fall on those
Who clip their nails or pick their nose
Or drop their knickers on the train
Twixt Wembley Park and Rayners Lane.
Respect the genial, genteel folk
Of Hampstead, Highgate, Gospel Oak;
Spare leafy Essex excess noise:
Preserve the peace of Theydon Bois!
David Silverman/John Betjeman
If you can cease to shout ‘I’m on the train!’
Assaulting ears with trivial conversation —
Transported past the barriers of pain
Your captive audience shrinks at your oration –
Then curb your puerile prating, we implore,
And trash your phone, employ a voice less shrill, you
Will find there’s gold in silence; and, what’s more
Your fellow travellers won’t be forced to kill you.
Sylvia Fairley/Rudyard Kipling
They brought you up, your mum and dad,
To show respect to all you meet,
So do not be a Jack the Lad.
Seats are for arses, not for feet.
Basil Ransome-Davies/Philip Larkin
My heart leaps up when I behold
A maiden young and sweet
Who, well aware that I grow old,
Will offer me her seat,
Such clouds of glory do they trail
Who, being young and fit,
Have pity on the old who ail
And stand that they may sit.