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Poet Laureate Simon Armitage creates blossom-inspired poem

Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate, standing in some early blooming blossom trees. Picture has been framed with some pink flower graphics
Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

As part of our annual celebration of blossom, we’re working on a two-year collaboration with Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and his band LYR to create a collection of poems. They'll touch on themes such as folklore, seasonal rhythms, the beauty of nature and the loss and restoration of blossom.

This is our fourth year celebrating the beauty of blossom, with the aim of connecting everyone with blossom wherever they are. Through this collaboration, we hope that Simon’s work will express the beauty and wonder of nature, while also addressing the ever-growing challenges nature is facing.

The commissioned collection will consist of 10 poems and other works, which will be released over 2023 and 2024. They’ll be created by Simon and his band LYR (Land Yacht Regatta) in collaboration with communities and other creatives across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

When I became Poet Laureate in 2019, I made the environment a cornerstone of my work and my activities, so to be working with the National Trust on a project that celebrates the annual renewal of the natural world was a perfect fit.

A quote by Simon Armitage Poet Laureate

Simon Armitage is a broadcaster, playwright, translator, novelist, author of three best-selling volumes of non-fiction, and presenter of a BBC Radio 4 series and podcast. He also writes, records and performs with his band LYR.

Simon said: 'When I became Poet Laureate in 2019, I made the environment a cornerstone of my work and my activities, so to be working with the National Trust on a project that celebrates the annual renewal of the natural world was a perfect fit.

'For this first poem, I was particularly keen to examine how nature might flourish in our urban landscapes, and about the tenacity of trees to be able to adapt to the most unlikely places.'

Plum Tree Among The Skyscrapers by Simon Armitage

She’s travelled for years
through tangled forests
and formal gardens,
edged along hedgerows,
set up her stall
on tenanted farms
then moved on, restless,
empty handed sometimes,
sometimes with fruit
in her arms.
She’s hopscotched
through graveyards and parks,
settled down in allotments,
clung to a church roof
by a toe.
She’s pitched camp on verges
and hard shoulders,
stumbled on threadbare moors
above the tree-line
and slummed it on wasteland,
but dug in on steep hillsides
and rough ground.
She was Queen of the May
on a roundabout once
in a roundabout way.
She’s piggy-backed
across trading estates, hitched
in a mistle thrush beak,
drifted with thistledown.
She’s thumbed a lift into town.

Now here she is,
in a cracked slab
in a city square
in a square mile
mirrored by glass and steel,
dwarfed by money
and fancy talk.
Hand-me-down brush,
pre-loved broom,
to the paid-by-the-minute
suits and umbrellas
and lunchtime shoppers
she’s a poor Cinderella
rootling about
in a potting compost
of burger boxes
and popped poppers.
In that world,
orchard and orphan
are one and the same.
But she’s here to stay -
plum in the middle -
and today she’s fizzing
with light and colour,
outshining the smug sculptures
and blubbering fountains.
Scented and powdered
she’s staging
a one-tree show
with hi-viz blossoms
and lip-gloss petals;
she’ll season the pavements
and polished stones
with something like snow.

Cherry plum tree blossom at Packwood House, Warwickshire

Listen to the poem

Simon's first poem will take you on a journey of struggle but also of survival as a plum seed finds a space to grow.

Two girls wander along a grass verge under apple trees full of pink, spring blossom.

Best places to see blossom

Blossom is a welcome sign that spring has arrived. Immerse yourself in the colourful blooms that you can find in your local park, out on your street or at many of the places in our care.

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