The British Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, has penned a poem to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Floral Tribute, which has been distributed by Armitage's publisher, Faber, describes the coming of a September evening and the appearance of a Lily-of-the-valley as a "token of thanks" – one of the Queen's favourite flowers.
The beautiful white bloom, which featured in Her Majesty's coronation bouquet in 1953, is a permanent feature of the floral displays at Buckingham Palace. Elegant and hardy, it has dark green leaves, bell-shaped, fragrant flowers, and is famed for being relatively easy to grow.
In the poem, Simon employs the form of a double acrostic, using the first letter of each line to spell out Elizabeth. He uses the metaphor of a lily to represent both the poem and the Queen, writing: "This lily that thrives between spire and tree, whose brightness/Holds and glows beyond the life and border of its bloom."
Later he adds: "The country loaded its whole self into your slender hands, Hands that can rest, now, relieved of a century's weight" and pays homage to "a promise made and kept for life".
Read the full poem below:
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.
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