‘Our Lily’, a poem by Simon Armitage in honor of the Queen
By Vanessa Allen for the Daily Mail
00:00 September 13, 2022, updated 15:53 September 13, 2022
Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has written a moving tribute to the Queen as a “token of thanks” for her decades of service.
The poem, titled Floral Greetings, refers to the king holding the country in “thin hands…hands that can rest now, lightened by the weight of a century.”
The 18-line poem takes the form of a double alphabet, meaning that the first letter of each line in both stanzas spells Elizabeth’s name.
The book begins by describing the coming of September evening – a reference to the month of the Queen’s death – and says that the “appointed” late afternoon could not delay the onset of darkness.
Then the poet describes a lily that illuminates the darkness and says that it is a “token of thanks.”
The lily of the valley was the Queen’s favorite flower and was included in her coronation bouquet in 1953. Her childhood nickname was Lilibet and the poem also refers to the lily of the valley as “almost her namesake”.
The Queen chose it when the royal family shared their favorite flowers in 2020 after the pandemic forced the Chelsea Flower Show online.
Buckingham Palace said it had a “special connection” with the Queen since her coronation, and the sweet-smelling flower also appeared in Kate Middleton’s wedding bouquet.
The jungle plant is often used as a symbol of trustworthiness, and is grown in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
Mr. Armitage refers to the Queen’s coronation and decades of service in the poem, writing: “The promise I made and kept for a lifetime – that was your gift.”
He continues: “The whole country has carried itself in your slender hands/hands that can rest now, having lightened the weight of a century.”
The second stanza begins with reference to the Queen’s death in Scotland: “The evening has come.” Rain on the Black Lakes and Dark Munros.’
He praises its “disciplined enthusiasm and powerful grace” and compares it to a lily of the valley, saying: “It’s all about these luminous petals and deep roots.”
It ends by suggesting that the Queen’s influence will last beyond her lifetime, as the lily’s brightness “continues and glows beyond the realm of life and the limits of its blossoming.” Mr Armitage, 59, has been Poet Laureate since May 2019, and meets the Queen once a year when she holds meetings with the winner of her annual Gold Medal for Poetry.
Earlier this year, he wrote a 70-line poem, Queenhood, to mark 70 years of her platinum jubilee service. The poet, a former probation officer, also wrote an elegy for the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, The Patriarchs.
In an interview with The Times earlier this year, he said the Queen had “won him over” and believed the nation needed a monarchy.
(tags for translation) Our