Simon Armitage writes new poem to mark Flying Scotsman centenary


Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has written a poem in honour of 100 years since the Flying Scotsman first entered service.


The poem describes how the steam engine “coughed into life” featuring “vast steel circumferences” and “rippling bodywork pouring with sweat”.

Mr Armitage rode on the locomotive as part of the process of writing the poem and said he was struck by “this incredible coming together of both mechanics and metaphysics”.

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The poet told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There’s something very dreamlike about the whole contraption and the experience of standing next to it.”

He added: “There’s just something absolutely incredible when you’re up close and personal with it.”

Mr Armitage said he wanted to celebrate the “analogue world”, when people had “an actual relationship with physical objects”.

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He continued: “I think in the digital world it’s often a very detached and dispassionate experience.”

Flying Scotsman is “an emblem of when we could have pride” about the railways, he said.

“My railway at the moment through Huddersfield is absolutely shameful and shambolic.”

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Celebrations are taking place in Edinburgh on Friday to mark the day Flying Scotsman entered service on February 24 1923, and the York-based National Railway Museum (NRM) has organised a centenary programme featuring events and exhibitions.

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