20 October, 2019

A new work by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage celebrates the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

In this video Simon describes his inspiration for the poem, which can be read in full below.

 

Ark

They sent out a dove: it wobbled home,

wings slicked in a rainbow of oil,

a sprig of tinsel snagged in its beak,

a yard of fishing-line binding its feet.

Bring back, bring back the leaf.

 

They sent out an arctic fox:

it plodded the bays

of the northern fringe

in muddy socks

and a nylon cape.

 

Bring back, bring back the leaf.

Bring back the reed and the reef,

set the ice sheet back on its frozen plinth,

tuck the restless watercourse into its bed,

sit the glacier down on its highland throne,

put the snow cap back on the mountain peak.

 

Let the northern the lights be the northern lights

not the alien glow over Glasgow or Leeds.

 

A camel capsized in a tropical flood.

Caimans dozen in Antarctic lakes.

Polymers rolled in the sturgeon’s blood.

Hippos wandered the housing estates.

 

Bring back, bring back the leaf.

Bring back the tusk and the horn

unshorn.

Bring back the fern, the fish, the frond and the fowl,

the golden toad and the pygmy owl,

revisit the scene

where swallowtails fly

through acres of unexhausted sky.

 

They sent out a boat.

Go little breaker,

splinter the pack-ice and floes, nose

through the rafts and pads

of wrappers and bottles and nurdles and cans,

the bergs and atolls and islands and states

of plastic bags and micro-beads

and the forests of smoke.

 

Bring back, bring back the leaf,

bring back the river and sea.

 

Simon Armitage, September 2019