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Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy (14 March 1844 – 30 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)
- 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.
- At least as early as 1921 there seem to have arisen variants with "trample an empire down", but the 1847 original has "trample a kingdom 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.
- 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?