Poetry In Motion- Subway by Billy Collins

Billy Collins- Subway

I found the poem “Subway” By billy Collins on the A train. My initial thoughts on this poem is that I feel like its meant to be a quick read thats suppose to make you feel some form of gratitude towards the people that made your whole Train trip possible. The Artwork in the back are white sheets of paper flowing in the wind on a Navy blue background. I feel like the only relevance the art in the back has to the poem is that it represents the MTA logo off of color coordination alone. This poem had to be chosen for passengers as a reminder to remind the train passengers to appreciate the hard work and dedication that made the whole trip possible. Evidence of this are the Lines (4-7) where Billy collins said “Remember the ones who… clear a passage for you.” referring to the people who started construction on the trains in 1904. At the end of the Poem in the last line he says “Remember as you come up into the light” meaning to think back on all the things he spoke about in the poem as you come up from the train station from underground. The speaker of the poem could possibly be Billy collins himself with the subject being appreciation of the people who made the whole thing possible. The questions i have for this poem and Billy collins himself is, what motivated him to create this poem and is he himself a New Yorker that rides the subway.

2 thoughts on “Poetry In Motion- Subway by Billy Collins

  1. andreasus

    I agree with the idea that it is promoting gratitude towards the people who made it possible for the subway to exist. Although I believe the poem is also bringing attention to the horrible conditions many of these workers had to face. At the time explosives had no timers, these people would set off explosives and have to run as fast as they could to avoid being killed. Many suffered and were killed while clearing a paths that millions of commuters use every day of the year. Within the last two lines while it emphasizes that there was only darkness and stone and to remember that as you get outside into the light, I believe that it is exploring the idea that many of these workers never got out of the tunnels. The poem is stating that you should feel privileged to see the light again

  2. Kevin Jean-Louis

    My first initial thought when I read this poem was that, this is prolly the best if not the most suitable poem for a train. Therefore I agree with your interpretation , on what the poem is saying. I feel like the poem is just a reminder before we judge and complain about the MTA, we should first acknowledge the man and woman who devoted their time and life to create the tracks, in order for the trains to run. ” Remember the ones……. clear a passage for you” ( lines 4-7). This support my reasoning, for believing that is what the poem is trying to make us readers understand.


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