Floral Tribute

The Queen with Lily of the Valley flowers
copyright Getty Images

Faber & Faber, publishing House is pleased to share a new poem by Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, ‘Floral Tribute’, marking the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Floral Tribute by Simon Armitage:

“Evening will come, however determined the late afternoon,
Limes and oaks in their last green flush, pearled in September mist.
I have conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks,
Zones and auras of soft glare framing the brilliant globes.
A promise made and kept for life – that was your gift –
Because of which, here is a gift in return, glovewort to some,
Each shining bonnet guarded by stern lance-like leaves.
The country loaded its whole self into your slender hands,
Hands that can rest, now, relieved of a century’s weight.

Evening has come. Rain on the black lochs and dark Munros.
Lily of the Valley, a namesake almost, a favourite flower
Interlaced with your famous bouquets, the restrained
Zeal and forceful grace of its lanterns, each inflorescence
A silent bell disguising a singular voice. A blurred new day
Breaks uncrowned on remote peaks and public parks, and
Everything turns on these luminous petals and deep roots,
This lily that thrives between spire and tree, whose brightness
Holds and glows beyond the life and border of its bloom.”

Simon Armitage,
The Poet Laureate.
September 13th 2022

From the BBC :

Floral Tribute, by Simon Armitage, is written through the metaphor of the lily of the valley – one of the late Queen’s favourite flowers, which appeared in her coronation bouquet.
The first letter of each line spells out “Elizabeth” when taken together.
Simon told BBC Radio 4 Today’s programme he tried to be “personal and write a poem of condolence but without being intrusive”.
Comprised of two verses, Floral Tribute describes the coming of a September evening and the appearance of a lily as “a token of thanks”.
In the first stanza, Armitage writes of “A promise made and kept for life – that was your gift”.
Explaining his decision to employ the acrostic technique and spell out the late Queen’s name, Armitage said: “It’s a lovely name but a name she probably rarely got to hear very much because everybody had to preface that with ceremonial nominals.”
Simon told the Today programme the poem was an opportunity to do something “outside of the language and commentaries we’ve already heard”.

Lily of the Valley; Queen Elizabeth’s favourite flower

Photo: The Woodland Trust.

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