Ark by Simon Armitage

Posted by Jeremy Windsor on Jul 17, 2020

Last year we published a post that looked at the effect of climate change upon the Mt Blanc Massif. This was followed by two interviews with activists - Robin Barraclough and Jim Duff. In 2020 we hope to publish more about the impact climate change has upon the mountain environment and importantly, what we can do about it. But before that, here's a poem written by poet laureate Simon Armitage that's well worth reading. It was written earlier this year to commemorate the launch of the RRS Sir David Attenborough.


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 lights be the northern lights 

not the alien glow over Glasgow or Leeds.

A camel capsized in a tropical flood. 

Caimans dozed 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 


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 can be found reading the poem here.

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