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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?

  • Another eye, is crying with laughter. And yet weeping with sadness.

    The things we write, by linking nonsense with bilge, foam meets frothing guff.

    Derek Stool

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  • What utter limp wristed drivel.

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  • It sounds like an Ian Martin column. Except it's serious.

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