I really love this poem, the way it weaves in the haunting, tragic story of Eyam, and of being exiled, distant from loved ones.
For a little background info about the poem check out this article from The Guardian: Florence Pugh and Simon Armitage record lockdown poem together | Music | The Guardian.
The full text of the poem is below, with a link to the music video below that. Enjoy!
Lockdown by Simon Armitage
And I couldn’t escape the waking dream
of infected fleas
in the warp and weft of soggy cloth
by the tailor’s hearth
in ye olde Eyam.
Then couldn’t un-see
the Boundary Stone,
that cock-eyed dice with its six dark holes,
thimbles brimming with vinegar wine
purging the plagued coins.
Which brought to mind the sorry story
of Emmott Syddall and Rowland Torre,
star-crossed lovers on either side
of the quarantine line
whose wordless courtship spanned the river
till she came no longer.
But slept again,
and dreamt this time
of the exiled yaksha sending word
to his lost wife on a passing cloud,
a cloud that followed an earthly map
of camel trails and cattle tracks,
streams like necklaces,
fan-tailed peacocks, painted elephants,
of meadows and hedges,
bamboo forests and snow-hatted peaks,
the hieroglyphs of wide-winged cranes
and the glistening lotus flower after rain,
hypnotically see-through, rare,
the journey a ponderous one at times, long and slow
but necessarily so.