OTR Celebrates Irish Poets

Ode

Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy, 1844 – 1881

William Edgar O’Shaughnessy’s career may have been as an assistant in the British Museum, but his true love was literature. Epic of Women was published in 1870 when he was twenty-six, followed by Lays of France in 1872 and Music and Moonlight in 1874. He was friends with painters, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown.

In 1873, Arthur O’Shaughnessy married Eleanor Marston, the daughter of author John Westland Marston and sister of the poet Philip Bourke Marston.  While he did not  produce any more volumes of poetry for the remaining seven years of his life, he and his wife wrote Toy-land, a book of children’s stories. Songs of a Worker was published in 1881 after his passing.

“Ode,” also known as “We are the Music Makers” from O’Shaughnessy’s book Music and Moonlight was his most renowned poem. which was set to music in 1912 by Sir Edward Elgar.

“Ode” aka “We Are the Music-Makers”

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,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, 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.

Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy

10 thoughts on “OTR Celebrates Irish Poets

  1. I wonder, do you suppose the phrase “movers and shakers” that we hear so much now came from this poem. What a great poem. The little country of Ireland gave us some outstanding poetry.

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    • How wonderful for you to stop by for a visit!! I know that you are doing some very interesting projects. Looking forward to hearing all about it once you have time.🙂

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      • Thanks Rebecca, glad that it’s Friday and I can have a little break. I try to write at least one post a week …. I wish I have a few hours more a day, the projects are going on well, need to read diligently and play some music with others, I am learning a lot.

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      • I have tried to figure out how to stuff more hours into the day, but alas! I’m delighted to hear that your projects are going well and that you are learning a lot. Make life exceedingly interesting.

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      • Rebecca, you know at first I hope to stop writing blog for a while to concentrate on ongoing projects, then mid of last week a gentleman wrote me a few messages and asked if I am stopping writing, and he hopes not, etc., very kind messages and I feel embarrassing …. I have a mixed feeling thereafter, well, I told myself perhaps I should try harder ….

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      • You have an extraordinary blog that explores art and music in detail. But you ongoing projects need your attention as well. It is coming up with the balance between the two that will take consideration. Whatever you decide, I know that you will be amazing.

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