By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.


Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Poet laureate pens tribute to architects

The poet laureate, Andrew Motion, has written a poem to celebrate the RIBA’s 175th Anniversary

The poem, Frozen Music, was commissioned by the RIBA and was read for the first time at the Royal Gold Medal dinner on 26 February 2009. The title of the poem is a reference to Goethe description of architecture as ‘frozen music’.

RIBA president, Sunand Prasad, who read the poem says: ‘We are thrilled that Andrew Motion, the poet laureate has responded with such panache to the RIBA’s invitation to write a poem for the Institute’s 175th birthday. Andrew’s thoughtful and evocative poem will grace the RIBA’s matchless collection for years to come; a reminder that poetry and architecture are siblings.’

Frozen Music
by Andrew Motion

An eye, shaded for better judgement,
peers from the cave mouth and imagines
four walls, a roof, windows and a door.
The dream hardens and the door locks.

Another eye, perfectly used to daylight,
swings the door wide open and imagines
city blocks, a grid, work-lives and a home.
The dream finishes and the lives begin.

Another eye, still occupied by the horizon,
looks up straight at the sun and imagines
pathways, a bridge, courtyards and a song.
The sun sets and the song continues.

The things we build, by linking earth with air,
all settle us to shape and share the world;
where form meets function, beauty matches truth:
our better selves take root and quicken there.

Readers' comments (3)

What do you think of Andrew Motion's poem about architects?

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related images

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters