We Are the Music Makers

flickr cc Mac H (media601)
Image courtesy of Flickr CC user Mac H (media601)


Hello Lovelies,

This week Facebook’s helpful “memories” notifications reminded me of one of my all-time favourite quotes:

“We are the music makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams”

-Opening lines of the poem, “Ode” written by Arthur O’Shaughnessy

Many of you may recall these words being spoken by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory, to Charlie just before Wilder’s character – Willy Wonka showed them the “lickable wallpaper”. However, these words were written down long before Wilder’s character ever spoke them.

When reminded of this quote, I began to wonder about the author, Arthur O’Shaughnessy and about the words of the rest of the poem this quote was taken from.

After a few minutes of googling, I discovered that O’Shaughnessy was quite an interesting man, not only was he a poet, but he was also a herpetologist. Don’t worry if you have no idea what herpetology is, neither did I, I had to look it up. Basically, herpetology is a branch of zoology, concerned with the study of amphibians and reptiles. So not only was this man a published poet, but he was also a scientist!

Now back to the man himself. According to Wikipedia, Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy was born in London on the 14th of March, 1844. At the age of seventeen he received the post of transcriber in the library of the British Museum, later becoming a herpetologist at the zoological department of the museum 2 years later, at the age of nineteen. Even though he had a successful career in herpetology, describing six new species of reptiles from 1874 until his death in 1881 and having 4 new species of lizards named in his honour after his passing, O’Shaughnessy’s true passion was literature.

O’Shaughnessy’s first collection of poetry was published in was published in 1870. He went on to publish 3 other collections of poetry (one published posthumously) and with his wife he published a collection of children’s stories. His most famous collection, “Music and Moonlight”, which contained his most famous poem “Ode”, was published in 1874 (although the poem itself was originally published in 1873).

O’Shaughnessy died aged only 36, from the effects of a “chill” after walking home from a London theatre at night, in the rain. Even though his published career was cut tragically short and his published works are few, O’Shaughnessy is regarded as one of the great “modern poets”, with anthologist Francis Turner Palgrave stating that O’Shaughnessy had a unique gift with “a haunting music all his own”.

O’Shaugnessy’s most famous poem, “Ode” has been popularised in many forms including song, cinema and in other writings. Interestingly, O’Shaughnessy was the one responsible for the now common phrase “movers and shakers”, he believed that poets would be the “movers and shakers”.

You can see the phrase in all its glory in the first stanza, as well as the often-quoted first two lines,

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.

Instead of idiotic politicians declaring themselves as “movers and shakers”, let the writers, the dreamers, the poets, the artists and the creators declare,

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

…we are the movers and shakers…

Write, dream, create…



 *Information retrieved from Wikipedia

© Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within, (2013-2016). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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