The last train is nearly due
The underground is closing soon
And in the dark deserted station
Restless in anticipation
A man waits in the shadows

His restless eyes leap and scratch
At all that they can touch or catch
And hidden deep within his pocket
Safe within its silent socket
He holds a colored crayon

Now from the tunnel's stony womb
The carriage rides to meet the groom
And opens wide and welcome doors
But he hesitates, then withdraws
Deeper in the shadows

And the train is gone suddenly
On wheels clicking silently
Like a gently tapping litany
And he holds his crayon rosary
Tighter in his hand

Now from his pocket quick he flashes
The crayon on the wall he slashes
Deep upon the advertising
A single-worded poem comprised of four letters

And his heart is laughing, screaming, pounding
The poem across the tracks rebounding
Shadowed by the exit light
His legs take their ascending flight
To seek the breast of darkness and be suckled by the night, ooh

Lyrics submitted by kevin

"A Poem on the Underground Wall" as written by Paul Simon

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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A Poem On The Underground Wall song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentOnly Paul Simon could make such a beautiful song about some guy writing the word "fuck" on a subway wall.

    Lovely song.
    Malteseon July 30, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI adore the way Simon turns what most people would see as an act of mindless graffiti into a triumph of artistic expression. The vandal is a hero, and vice versa!
    ShineYouDiamondon August 05, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYes the four-letter word is certainly that lovely "f-word." The idea for this song came from the Wednesday Morning, 3AM album cover. They had taken at least a hundred shots of themselves in front of a wall and finally got the shot they wanted.. They looked a little closer and happened to notice some lucky poet's work had been prominently featured in bold letters. The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls...
    fixableon May 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI adore the way Simon turns what most people would see as an act of mindless graffiti into a triumph of artistic expression. The vandal is a hero, and vice versa!
    ShineYouDiamondon August 05, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFixable already touched on this, but here is the direct quote (from Live From New York):

    “The first album we recorded for Columbia called ‘Wednesday Morning, 3 am’ has a picture on the cover of Paul and myself in the uh subway system in New York here standing at the uh 5th avenue station next to an iron post. If you know the album then you’re familiar with the picture. What you’re not familiar with is the trouble that we went through in order to get that final picture because the original shots that were taken for the ah cover were taken off the uh picture that you see standing against the subway wall at the platform underneath the subway sign and we took about 500 pictures until we were satisfied with the perfect James Dean shot and packed up the cameras and guitars and as we left the station…I took a glance at the subway wall in front of which we had taken all the pictures for the first time that day and noticed that written there-rather legibly-in the baroque style common to New York subway wall writers was the uh the old familiar suggestion. And rather beautifully illustrated as well. Well we had a conference with Columbia records to decide what to do about this problem and of course we immediately told Columbia that this was exactly what we wanted on the cover of the LP. Forget it. I’m um mentioning this because we have taken a song, it’s now two years later...Paul has written a song fairly recently in London dealing with the uh theme of people who write on subway walls but treating the theme in a rather strange and serious way. The song is called ‘A Poem on the Underground Wall’.”
    SparrowBirdon February 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfuck
    coolcroweon August 15, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionThe four-letter, one word poem is most definitely "Fuck". Paul Simon's inspiration for writing the song came from when they tried to shoot the album over for "Wednesday Morning, 3 AM" in the New York Subway and found that much of their photographs couldn't be used because the subway walls were covered in obscenities.

    The deeper meaning, I think, would be in relation to what was happening in the country in the 60's with censorship and the anti-society culture. I just love the feeling to the song, personally. I love how he could take something so simple and make such a lovely song :)
    DixieJon February 09, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSeriously? Where did you people get the nutso idea of a suicide? On the record, you can plainly hear the subject's hollow heeled footsteps as he leaves the station after the train passes.
    Clubfooton November 08, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of my favorite Paul Simon songs. I think it is a beuatifully poetic impression of the myriad of paths towards a personal salvation.
    ambulant2000on December 14, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsuch a nice song, describes life as it was then and has become even more since then...

    Anyone know what the single worded poem is?

    Love? Hate?
    Joehoedithon April 10, 2005   Link

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