Simon Armitage takes his harmonium to The Repair Shop

entry picture

The poet laureate, Simon Armitage, has appeared on BBC1’s The Repair Shop on Wednesday, hoping that organ restorer David Burville could revive a treasured harmonium, the subject of one of his poems.

In the poem, ‘Harmonium’, Armitage records that “The Farrand Chapelette was gathering dust / in the shadowy porch of Marsden Church / and was due to be bundled off to the tip / or was mine, for a song, if I wanted it.”

What sort of state was it in? “Sunlight through stained stained glass … / had aged the harmonium’s softwood case / and yellowed the fingernails of its keys, / ands one of its notes had lost its tongue / and holes were worn in both the treadles …”

The harmonium has poignant associations for him: he and his late father Peter both sang in the church choir. “Its hummed harmonies still struck a chord: / it had stood facing the choristers’ stalls / where father then son had opened their throats”.  

In the poem Armitage recounts how his father helps him to carry the harmonium away - “and him being him” then jokes that the next box his son will have to carry through the nave …  

You can watch the programme here 

You can find the ‘Harmonium’ poem in the collection Magnetic Field, The Marsden Poems.   


◄ Stockport Write Out Loud to host open-mic night at arts festival

Alicia Stallings is new Oxford Professor of Poetry ►


Profile image

Graham Sherwood

Wed 7th Jun 2023 21:14

I watched this tonight. I thought his piece about the harmonium was very touching. Not so keen on the music ensemble at the end though.

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message