Author Topic: "Ode" by Arthur O'Shaughnessy  (Read 2409 times)


  • Sakellarios
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"Ode" by Arthur O'Shaughnessy
« on: September 30, 2016, 08:25:58 PM »
This is another "Glaurung introduces someone else's poem" post, like Clancy of "The Overflow". It's another of the very small number of poems that have stuck with me after I've encountered them.

It's out of copyright, so I can quote it in full, and as I think it will resonate with a lot of people here, I'm going to do so.

We are the music makers,
  And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
  And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
  On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
  Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
  Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
  Can trample a kingdom down.

We, in the ages lying
  In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
  And Babel itself in our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
  To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
  Or one that is coming to birth.

A breath of our inspiration
Is the life of each generation;
A wondrous thing of our dreaming
Unearthly, impossible seeming—
The soldier, the king, and the peasant
  Are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present,
  And their work in the world be done.

They had no vision amazing
Of the goodly house they are raising;
They had no divine foreshowing
Of the land to which they are going:
But on one man's soul it hath broken,
  A light that doth not depart;
And his look, or a word he hath spoken,
  Wrought flame in another man's heart.

And therefore to-day is thrilling
With a past day's late fulfilling;
And the multitudes are enlisted
In the faith that their fathers resisted,
And, scorning the dream of to-morrow,
  Are bringing to pass, as they may,
In the world, for its joy or its sorrow,
  The dream that was scorned yesterday.

But we, with our dreaming and singing,
  Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
  Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing:
  O men! it must ever be
That we dwell, in our dreaming and singing,
  A little apart from ye.

For we are afar with the dawning
  And the suns that are not yet high,
And out of the infinite morning
  Intrepid you hear us cry—
How, spite of your human scorning,
  Once more God's future draws nigh,
And already goes forth the warning
  That ye of the past must die.

Great hail! we cry to the comers
  From the dazzling unknown shore;
Bring us hither your sun and your summers;
  And renew our world as of yore;
You shall teach us your song's new numbers,
  And things that we dreamed not before:
Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,
  And a singer who sings no more.

If you'd like a more official source to link to, it's on Wikisource. There is a brief biography of O'Shaughnessy on Wikipedia.


  • Megadux
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Re: "Ode" by Arthur O'Shaughnessy
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 11:06:11 PM »
I've just reread this - it is very good :) And full of quotability, as the Wiki article gives numerous proofs of.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...


  • Sakellarios
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Re: "Ode" by Arthur O'Shaughnessy
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2018, 12:14:31 AM »
Indeed so. Though not mentioned in the Wikipedia article, it also seems to have given us the phrase "movers and shakers", though perhaps not quite in the sense that O'Shaughnessy originally intended it.


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Re: "Ode" by Arthur O'Shaughnessy
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2018, 11:13:29 AM »
That is very inspirational and uplifting, a perfect thing for darker days, I shall remember it for when those come around again... :)
Thank you for sharing it... :)
"Those who don't beieve in magic will never find it." - Roald Dahl