Sunday, March 17, 2013

We are the music makers...

I love the poem Ode by Arthur O'Shaughnessy. Love it. So much so, actually, that I included the first stanza in my thesis project (a photography book). My thesis was a collection of photographs I'd made based on my water themed dreams. I've always loved this poem and thought it was particularly fitting for the project. 

 (Mr. Artie O--a seriously awesome gentleman, with a seriously awesome stache.)


Thanks to the movie Willy Wonka, a lot of people are familiar with the opening lines--even if they're not sure where they come from. There's nothing wrong with that, and the first time I heard those lines was probably as a child watching that movie. (I was obsessed with the movies Willy Wonka, The Labyrinth, and Annie as a kid.) The thing that makes me sad is that the lines resonate with so many people, but they don't bother to look them up. 

Today, in someone's signature on a forum, were the first two lines from Ode--attributed to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My heart broke a little. 

Roald Dahl was an amazing author who wrote some of my favorite books from childhood, so nothing against the guy (besides the fact that he was anti-semitic...which makes me super sad...) but I'm pretty sure none of the awesome literary references in the movie were in the book. (I just checked, and yep...others have written on this and confirm that they were added by the screenwriter.) So even if you were unaware of the poem and didn't think to google the line, you'd attribute it to the movie, not the book. 

 (another awesome gentleman who can rock a bow-tie like none other...except maybe the Doctor...)


I LOVE that kids movies and books can be rich and deep and complex, and like with the literary references in Willy Wonka, expose people to things they might never otherwise experience. That's seriously amazing. But it's also really sadifying that people miss out on so much by not using the resources available to them to search for MORE of the awesome.  

I didn't correct the person, because I don't know them and it's really not my place, but I thought I'd share the poem so more people can experience it in its entirety.  So, for your St. Patty's day reading enjoyment, a poem by a British poet of Irish descent. ;)

Ode - by Arthur William Edgar 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 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 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.

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 broke,
A light that doth not depart
And his look, or a word he hath spoken,
Wrought flame in another man's heart.

And therefore today 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 tomorrow,
Are bringing to pass, as they may,
In the world, for it's joy or it's 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 corners
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 dreamt not before;
Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,
And a singer who sings no more.

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