Simon Armitage’s poem Floral Tribute uses the lily of the valley, one of the late Queen’s favorite flowers and a component of her crowning bouquet, as a metaphor. When combined, the initial letter of each line forms the word “Elizabeth.”
On BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Armitage stated he wanted to be “personal and write a poem of sympathy without being intrusive.” Floral Tribute, a poem of two verses, speaks of the arrival of a September evening and the emergence of a lily as “a symbol of thankfulness.” In the opening line, Armitage describes “a promise made and maintained for life—that was your gift.” According to Armitage, the acrostic method to spell out the late Queen’s name was adopted. She probably didn’t hear the name very often because everyone had to introduce it with ceremonial nominals.
Floral Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II 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.
A 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.