Ode 

By Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1844–1881 Arthur O'Shaughnessy
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.


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Poet Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1844–1881

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Living, Death, Time & Brevity, Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

 Arthur  O'Shaughnessy

Biography

Born in London, Arthur O’Shaughnessy worked in the Zoology Department of the British Museum, where he became an expert in herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles. By age 30, he had published three collections of poetry, including Music and Moonlight, which contained his inspiring poem “Ode.” He and his wife, Eleanor, wrote the children’s storybook Toyland. The couple’s two children both died as infants, and Eleanor . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Time & Brevity, Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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