(Poem #6) Ode
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.
Another of my favourites - this is truly a poem that sings. The first two lines, in particular, I rank among the most beautiful I've come across. A brief biographical note: The Irish-English singer, Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy, was born in London in 1844. He was connected, for a while, with the British Museum, and was transferred later to the Department of Natural History. His first literary success, Epic of Women (1870), promised a brilliant future for the young poet, a promise strengthened by his Music and Moonlight (1874). Always delicate in health, his hopes were dashed by periods of illness and an early death in London in 1881. [Ode] is not only O'Shaughnessy's best, but is, because of its perfect blending of music and message, one of the immortal classics of our verse. -- Louis Untermeyer (ed.), 'Modern British Poetry'