Poem by Daljit Nagra lights up the Coronation Concert

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A poem performed by actor James Nesbitt and written by the chair of the Royal Society of Literature, Daljit Nagra, pictured, illuminated the Coronation Concert at Windsor on Sunday night. 

The poem, ‘We’re Lighting Up The Nation’, which was also described as a “spoken word piece”, begins: “No one’s an island when each is at home in the hope and glory! Born free – we’re a plucky bunch of every shade.

“From the bronze of the Celts across our Roman roads to Windrush and beyond … today, just now, the spectacular parades of light travelling from Windsor to iconic heartlands across the realm so the kingdom be unified.

“Imagine Edinburgh Castle near monuments for Scott and Burns, or imagine across the waters of Belfast our titanic dockyard and the blood-sweat, the toil that launched a thousand ships.

“Over there’s Blackpool for Punch & Judy, glad rags for the tango and foxtrot, and out for a pint of Newkie Brown by the Gateshead Bridge, that harp of the Toon, the Tyne – it’s all mine.

“Now all Yorkshire beams from the hall of seven-hilled Sheffield, now my heart’s with the famed anthem, the land of my fathers at Cardiff Millennium!

“Everywhere I look, from the golden miles of Leicester with their chicken masalas and jollof rice to an eco-haven amid the botanical gardens of Cambridge like the oasis at Eden with its rainforest under a dome, to our bold promise of the cliffs of Dover, everywhere I look, within our shores, I feel a new phase, new chapter must begin, just now, so let’s light up the nation like a smile!”

Light shows took place in 10 towns and cities, including Sheffield, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Belfast and Newcastle. The displays also included the Welsh dragon beamed into the sky above Cardiff, whilst a watering can hovered above the Eden Project’s Biomes in Cornwall.

Daljit Nagra, who is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, said his poem was about the nation coming together and he was honoured to be asked to write the poem by the BBC and the Palace on behalf of the Royal Society.

He added: “My poem is about the nation coming together as various iconic sites around the United Kingdom are lit up. It’s packed with references to British cultural moments. For example, the opening line refers to John Donne’s great poem that opens ‘No man is an island’. I imagine he said this when he was the Dean of St Paul’s and speaking, as it were, to the nation.”

Daljit Nagra is from a Sikh background and was born and grew up in west London, then Sheffield. He has published four books of poetry with Faber & Faber. His poem ‘Look We Have Coming to Dover!’ won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem in 2004. His first collection, of the same name, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2007.






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Stephen Gospage

Sat 13th May 2023 07:48

It's wonderful to see this kind of original work being aired at national events to a massive audience.

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