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British RoyalsQueen Elizabeth II

The Floral Tribute: the Poet Laureate writes an homage to Queen Elizabeth II

The Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom has released a final tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II, evoking her memory in an appropriately-named ‘Floral Tribute.’

Simon Armitage’s poem is written as a double acrostic, meaning the first word of each line forms its own word when you read vertically—in this, both stanzas spell out ‘Elizabeth.’

In ‘Floral Tribute,’ a September evening is described through the bloom of a lily of the valley flower. It reads, in part, “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.”

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Today’, Armitage said that his poem was a way to be “personal and write a poem of condolence, but without being intrusive,” and that he wanted to write something “outside of the language and commentaries we’ve already heard.”

More overt tributes to the late queen’s life of service and duty are reflected in other lines, such as, “The country loaded its whole self into your slender hands, Hands that can rest, now, relieved of a century’s weight.”

Armitage said he chose to do a double acrostic poem spelling out the late Queen Elizabeth’s name because “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.”

Armitage read the poem in a video tribute shared on the Royal Family’s social media accounts.

The poet laureate is a traditional post within the British Royal Family, with a poet chosen for a fixed ten-year period. Armitage came into his position in 2019 and will hold it until 2029.

The full poem ‘Floral Tribute’ can be found here.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.