Across from Sheffield Train Station, Hallam University's Owen building acts as canvas to a poem by former poet laureate Andrew Motion entitled "What If?".

The poem stands nine stories high and challenges the reader to dream and to hope.

I have always liked it, but one curious phrase stands out to me towards it's conclusion - "...the city where your dreaming is repaid."


I wonder what you make of it?



What if? by Andrew Motion

O travellers from somewhere else to here

Rising from Sheffield Station and Sheaf Square

To wander through the labyrinths of air,

Pause now, and let the sight of this sheer cliff
Become a priming-place which lifts you off
To speculate
What if..?
What if..?
What if..?

Cloud shadows drag their hands across the white;

Rain prints the sudden darkness of its weight;
Sun falls and leaves the bleaching evidence of light.

Your thoughts are like this too: as fixed as words
Set down to decorate a blank facade
And yet, as words are too, all soon transferred

To greet and understand what lies ahead -
The city where your dreaming is re-paid,
The lives which wait unseen as yet, unread.


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