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Lyr Add: An Ode (Arthur O'Shaughnessy)

Songbob 03 May 99 - 03:33 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 03 May 99 - 05:50 PM
Jim Dixon 05 May 09 - 06:05 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: AN ODE (Arthur O'Shaughnessy)
From: Songbob
Date: 03 May 99 - 03:33 PM

In the thread on "best lines," this poem, which has been set to music by several folkies and Edward Elgar, too, came up. Here it is as I sing it:


We are the music-makers,
We are the dreamers of dreams.
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
Or sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon beams.
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems.

From many a matchless ditty
And many the wondrous story,
We built the world's great cities
And fashioned an empire's glory.
One man with a dream at leisure
Can go out and conquer a crown
But three with a new song's measure
Can crumble an empire down.

Chorus (verse 1)

We, in the ages lying
In the dim, dark dust of the earth
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth.
Then o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth
For each age is a dream that's dying
Or a new one coming to birth.

Chorus (verse 1)

Words by Arthur Shaunessy (18??-1889)
New words and music ©1990, Bob Clayton

Of course, without the music, it's hard to "hear" it, but there it is, anyway.

Bob Clayton

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Subject: RE: LYRIC ADD: Ode
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 03 May 99 - 05:50 PM

Thanks, Bob- any way to post the tune? The words are great- I've had Shaunnessy's words posted in my classroom for years.

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Subject: Lyr Add: AN ODE (Arthur O'Shaughnessy)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 May 09 - 06:05 PM

This has been quoted several times at Mudcat, but no one has posted the whole poem.

From Appletons' Journal, Vol 10, No 237, Oct 4, 1873, page 440:

(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 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,
Con trample a kingdom down.

We in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself in 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.

For 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.

—London Athenaeum

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