Arthur O'Shaughnessy

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Arthur O'Shaughnessy

Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy (14 March 184430 January 1881) was a British poet and singer. Though relatively unknown during his own lifetime, his works gained posthumous fame in the 20th century.


Music and Moonlight (1874)[edit]


  • 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 an empire down.
  • We, in the ages lying
    In the buried past of the earth,
    Built Nineveh with our sighing,
    And Babel itself with 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.
    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.


Love, — our life and all our years are cast upon the waves;
Our heart is as the hand that steers; — but who is He that saves?
  • The stars are dimly seen among the shadows of the bay,
    And lights that win are seen in strife with lights that die away.
  • O precious is the pause between the winds that come and go,
    And sweet the silence of the shores between the ebb and flow.
  • Spread sail! For it is Hope today that like a wind new-risen
    Doth waft us on a golden wing towards a new horizon,
    That is the sun before our sight, the beacon for us burning,
    That is the star in all our night of watching and of yearning.
  • Love is this thing that we pursue today, tonight, for ever,
    We care not whither, know not who shall be at length the giver:
    For Love, — our life and all our years are cast upon the waves;
    Our heart is as the hand that steers; — but who is He that saves?

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