We are The Music Makers Summary Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy: 2023

“We Are the music makers” is an ode by the British poet of Irish descent, Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy. He was born in London on March 14, 1844. O’Shaughnessy was deeply influenced by French poetry, by the Pre-Raphaelite group, and by Charles Swinburne. His first published collection of poetry was called “Epic of Women” (1870), which was followed by “Lays of France” (1872) and “Music and Moonlight” (1874), under which the first poem is the ode which is popularly known by its famous first line “We are the music makers.” This poem is a tribute to all creative artists in the world.

We are The Music Makers Summary

Stanza 1

The poet begins the poem “We Are The Music Makers” by addressing all the artists like musicians, writers, painters, and so on. He calls them “music-makers” and “dreamers of dreams.” He doesn’t mention a specific art form that gives the poem a universal appeal. Music offers the best escape routes from the harsh monotony of everyday life. The artists are capable of creating a world of their own where they can wander alone by the sea and ponder over things by the secluded stream.

There is a sense of despondence in every artist which serves to feed the fire in them and shape their creativity into artistic works. The poet also brings into the limelight the hard life of the artists who are often regarded as “losers” and “forsakers” by society as they are often believed to be eccentric as they are beyond the reach of society. They suffer from loneliness, and often there comes the point where all they have is their art, as they do not pursue worldly pleasures. “The pale moon” is a symbol of the minimal income of the artists in our society. This also draws our attention to the poor artists who look for good fortune or patrons to help them sell their art. However, even though the artists remain isolated and aloof from mainstream society, they are the ultimate “movers and shakers.” This is exactly where the phrase “movers and shakers” originated. Artists are rebellious; they are capable of stirring powerful emotions in the minds of the people. Through their art, they can bring a change in the world.

Stanza 2

In this stanza, the poet highlights the contributions of different artists to the world in the form of their creations. The immortal songs created by musicians or poets are capable of building new cities and civilizations in people’s minds. They inspire people to think and feel things that they otherwise don’t pay heed to. Similarly, a writer is capable of shaping a glorious empire through his fabulous stories. The artists are responsible for taking an empire to its artistic heights. An artist’s fantasy motivates people to “dream at pleasure.” Men are mortal, but works of art transcend the concept of time and space and create a lasting impact on civilization. A man with a dream is fit to move forward and do something productive for society. He can wear the crown of achievement. Artists can bring change in people’s minds and thought processes by giving them the freedom to bring about a revolution for betterment. They are almost equated with the leaders of tomorrow for the kind of effect their works leave on the minds and souls of people.

Stanza 3

In this stanza, the poet tries to equate art with divinity as he alludes to the Biblical cities of Nineveh and Babel. Artists belong to all ages. The ancient city of Nineveh was built by the artists with was later abandoned and destroyed and was never built again.  The people of Babel were dedicated to building a tower so high that it reached heaven. It is believed that Nineveh was created by artists out of distress, whereas Babel was created out of joy. Nineveh and Babel are symbolic of an artist’s ability to destroy and create. Artists are capable of deconstructing the old world into a new world by their prophecy. The dreams of the artists allow them to achieve immortality in the world. Dreams and aspirations of each age are replaced by new dreams and aspirations of another. These are subjective concepts that help in making a change. Thus, the music makers in this world are the most precious gift to mankind, who not only create art but also destroy it for a better tomorrow.

We are The Music Makers Rhyme Scheme

The ode “We Are the music makers” follows a rhyme scheme that adds a hint of music to it. The ode consists of three stanzas of eight lines each. The first and the third stanza follow the same rhyme scheme, i.e., abababab, which means that the alternate lines in the stanzas rhyme with each other. The rhyme scheme of the second stanza is aabbcdcd. Some of the rhyming words in the We Are The Music Makers poem are “dreams,” “streams,” “earth,” “mirth,” “makers,” “breakers,” “forsakers,” etc.

For example,

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
. (1st stanza)

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
. (2nd stanza)

We are The Music Makers Summary Poetic Devices

1. Alliteration –

It is the close repetition of consonant sounds, usually at the beginning of words. For instance,

“We are the music-makers”

With wonderful deathless ditties

2. Allusion –

Allusion is a figure of speech in which a reference is made to a person, place, thing, writing, or idea of historical, cultural, literary, or political significance. In We Are The Music Makers, the poet alludes to the Biblical cities of Nineveh and Babel, which are symbolic of human rise and fall. The poet alludes to these cities to highlight the artistic capability of an artist to create and destroy.

Updated by Anjali Roongta on 19th April 2023

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Frequently Asked Questions

The poem is about art, the sacrifices artists make, and how artists can both create and destroy.

The theme of the poem is art.
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