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  4. Ode  by Arthur O'Shaughnessy
Ode 

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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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Ode 

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  • 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 died a few years later. Arthur’s cause of death was listed as a “chill” after he walked home from the theater one rainy night.

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