The Telegraph

Poet laureate marks Prince Philip’s death: ‘To eulogise one man is to pipe up for a whole generation’

Simon Armitage, the poet laureate, has written a poem to mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s death. The Patriarchs – An Elegy opens with a reference to the unseasonal snow that carpeted much of the country in the days after his passing. It describes the incredible achievements of the Duke’s wartime generation, but includes subtle nods to his own personal experiences and military endeavours. “On such an occasion to presume to eulogise one man is to pipe up for a whole generation,” Armitage writes, setting out his stall in the first stanza. The poem mentions “orange crate coracles”, drawing on a remarkable part of the Duke’s own story. As an 18-month-old, evacuated from Greece on the British Navy ship, HMS Calypso following his father’s abdication, he spent much of the voyage in an orange box, fashioned into a makeshift cot. It talks of fighting “ingenious wars” and “finagled triumphs at sea” – a reference to the Duke’s wartime service and his distinguished naval career between 1939 and 1951. The moment of quick thinking during his war service in 1943, when he used a “flaming decoy” to distract a Luftwaffe bomber, saving dozens of lives, is also given a nod. The second verse
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