National Day of Reflection – Poem Poet Laureate Simon Armitage – Only Human

23rd March 2022

‘Only Human’ – The Poet Laureate’s new poem for the National Day of Reflection for Covid-19

Simon Armitage, The Poet Laureate, will give a first reading of ‘Only Human’ – his new poem specially commissioned by York Minster, to mark the second National Day of Reflection for Covid-19.

Simon will read at a special Choral Evensong service with music by the Choir of York Minster, readings and prayers of remembrance and hope. People visited the Minster throughout the day to remember loved ones who died and those now living with physical and mental health challenges as a result of the virus.

Here is the poem, Only Human by Simon Armitage.

Creatures of touch – creatures of talk –
we were busy telling the world
what was what – molding the earth
to our shape – when a front rolled in –
some invisible weather infused
with a harm that leapt from hand
to hand – or spread by word of mouth –
made its lair in the lungs – its roost
on the tongue.  For weeks then years
it was hard to belong – to be whole.
And months in between of holding
our nerve – the soul treading water
in heavy mist – the mind in amber –
time keeping step with the drumbeat
of grief and hurt – the daily count.

A great many lost.  So here we pause.

We came through – kindled a heat
in the dark – candled our own hearts
till the air was fit to breathe again –
and witnessed a dawn of sorts
where we sang – spooned – snogged – smooched –
woke with a finer sense of the beings
we are – and what being is – gathered
together – unmasked – as creatures of thought.
In parks around the globe – blossoms
were culled to keep admirers away –
two years on those trees are budding
louder and fuller – with fruit to come –
apple and cherry – peach – pear – plum.
In the public gardens the poet wrote
We are better now – that is the hope.

The National Day of Reflection, March 23rd 2022 – More here.