Reading Thomas Hood’s Poem on the Underground

Reposting this for more air

I remember, yes, I too remember 
the house where I was born, 
and the only photograph I remember 
is the one I do not have
of the front, taken before the war 
which commandeered for bombs 
the railings and the wrought-iron gate.

I remember the jagged stumps, 
and the missing gate, like a loss of face;
the absurdity of the cloche hats,
my mother sadly smiling sadly,
my kind aunt, no kids to spoil
and a suicide plan for retirement,
who kindly spoilt me sick with plums.

I remember the dining-room, 
agony of long evenings, wind howling 
under floor-boards, lino lifting,
reek of smoke gassing the air,
the Bakelite wireless in the corner, 
wheezing and spluttering in and out of life,
my father causing friction twiddling dials.

I remember the air-raid shelter
my parents shared with old Mrs Weaver
till the last all-clear, the cat that sulked
in the cherry-tree if left for a day;
flour-faced Mrs Weaver, my first death at eight;
the cat at ten, just a whiff of gas,
after his trouble in the coal-shed.

I remember the landing,
where I stood and it was always cold,
and I’d call that I couldn’t sleep,
as they niggled away downstairs,
the one coal fire petering out,
a smouldering rumble of a row
she would miss when he’d gone.

I remember the front room, 
conserved for special occasions and never used,
icy as a monk’s cell, my Meccano retreat.
I google and see new railings, a new gate –
imagine phantoms gliding from room to room,
trampling over the boy on the landing
as they traipse through the man on the train.



© Nemo 2023
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I’m a little too old to remember the war days, but old enough to remember the mess it left behind where I grew up, and the generation and a half to tidy up.
Your description of life in suburban 30’s homes rings very true for me. Cold front rooms kept icily pristine for best. Freezing bedroom and creepy scary shadows in the night. It’s all there.


A wonderfully descriptive poem alive with atmosphere.


It is always a joy to re-read a gem from Nemo’s collection and it would be even more enjoyable to see something new.
I hope you are keeping well, Gerald.
Best wishes, Luigi


Every word evocative, haunting, sparkling.

Brilliant! I love this.

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