Queen Elizabeth's Personal Poet Shares Touching Words To Honor Her Passing

The heartbreaking death of Queen Elizabeth II has inspired everyone from world leaders to children to share memories and tributes. While some tributes, like Paddington Bear dolls and marmalade sandwiches, have been asked not to be left anymore, words about Queen Elizabeth II are still being written and shared. Poet Laureate for the United Kingdom, Simon Armitage, was moved enough to compose a poem — the second this year, per The Guardian.

According to gov.uk, Armitage was named Poet Laureate in 2019, becoming the United Kingdom's 21st Poet Laureate. The tradition, the website explains, began with King Charles II in 1668 and, while it originally was a lifetime position, a 10-year term limit was established in 1999 to "give more poets the opportunity to hold the position." Former Poet Laureates include William Wadsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Betjeman, and Sylvia Plath's husband, Ted Hughes. The Guardian adds that the position of Poet Laureate is chosen by the monarch, though has taken the prime minister's recommendation since 1790. Armitage was the queen's seventh Poet Laureate (via Owlcation).

Armitage's first poem of 2022, "Queenhood," was "written in celebration of [the queen's] platinum jubilee," The Guardian reports. Previously, he wrote a poem in honor of Prince Philip following his the Duke of Edinburgh's death. Other topics Armitage has covered include "the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and coronavirus," The Guardian reports.

His tribute to the queen, "Floral Tribute," was published by Faber on September 13.

The United Kingdom's Poet Laureate pens new poem in honor of Queen Elizabeth's death

Taking a break from what The Guardian explains is an alphabetical order, "decade-long tour of the libraries across the United Kingdom," Poet Laureate Simon Armitage wrote "Floral Tribute" in honor of Queen Elizabeth II. A double acrostic poem containing two stanzas of nine lines, the first letter of each line spelling out "Elizabeth." 

Armitage more or less confirmed this hypothesis, explaining that when he was writing, he was inspired by the "first Elizabethan age" when poetry "was often full of little signs and signals," per The Guardian. "[Elizabeth's] a lovely name," the Poet Laureate explained about his decision to write an acrostic poem on BBC Radio 4 Tuesday, September 13. "[B]ut a name she probably rarely got to hear very much because everybody had to preface that with ceremonial nomials." He added that by paying tribute to the queen through poetry, he was able to "do something outside of the language and commentaries we've already heard."

Armitage explained to the BBC that in writing "Floral Tribute," he tried to make it a personal poem of "condolence" without "being intrusive." Instead, the narrator of "Floral Tribute" is preparing for a September evening and has "conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks." Lilies — specifically lily of the valley, mentioned in line 11 — were said to be the queen's favorite flower, per The Guardian.