Arthur O'Shaughnessy

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We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams

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.

Quotes[edit]

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.

Music and Moonlight (1874)[edit]

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.
Each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
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.
We, with our dreaming and singing,
Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
Of the glorious futures we see.
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.

Ode[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 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.

Barcarolle[edit]

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?

External links[edit]