‘For work for Love’ Lemn Sissay immortalises Arlington House

Poet and playwright, Lemn Sissay was commissioned to write a piece, ‘For work For Love’ inspired by Thanet by the arts organisation, Workers of Art. It is being projected this weekend on the facade of Turner Contemporary. The poem is the result of Lemn coming to Thanet to spend time and connect with people and the area. We’re proud that Arlington House has been immortalised as a local heritage landmark. And especially pleased to see Lemn’s vision of the open Margate caves.

For Work for Love 

A Flint night falls the smuggler wakes

Punch sleeps where Judy wept

She descends beneath a Thanet sky

Calcareous clouds of hops and hope


A candle paints on the tunnel wall

An iris between the loom and luminous

A lunar corona a dull echo of light

(Within this fist of sight she steps)

Inwards onwards as darkness retreats

Fossils break beneath her feet

In gulping eyes a gull’s glare

Deeper into underworld

Beneath the workhouse, beneath royal sea baths

Beneath Arlington house

Beneath the clock tower a penny shudders

On its pendulum then beneath Turner

To the caves, the open caves

Horizon melts sky and sea

For a dawn of fire and earth to come

The sun the sun…

Cold air pushes her chalk face

Water traces her toes as

Blue pencil around a child’s fingers

The trace sea

With cold hands grabs her ankles

She becomes an immigrant

She tastes salt immigrant salt

The moment she steps into the sea

“One Day I Will Leave Here” she screams

At the tide and the Margate Moon

“And I will make something of myself”

Her breath becomes the waves

“we’re all immigrants”  said a woman old enough to know

As she foxtrots’ alone in the community centre

“This was an Isle after all. We all crossed the waters for

Work or for love and some if lucky

Return with the same”