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Short poem

Selected Poetry of Arthur O'Shaughnessy (1844-1881)

from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

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.
        (Ode, 1-8)
  1. Ode

Notes on Life and Works

Born on March 14, 1844, in London, Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy earned his living in the Natural History Department of the British Museum, which he joined as a junior assistant in the Department of Printed Books in June 1861. He eventually became a valued expert on reptiles. O'Shaughnessy published four volumes of poetry, in 1870, 1872, 1874, and posthumously in 1881. His most enduring poem, known from its first line, "We are the music makers," was later set to music by Edward Elgar and Zoltán Kodály. O'Shaughnessy married Eleanor Marston in 1873, with whom he wrote Toy-land, a book of children's stories. Their two children died shortly after birth. She died in 1879, just two years before he did.

Biographical information

Given name: Arthur
Family name: O'Shaughnessy
Birth date: 14 March 1844
Death date: 30 January 1881
Nationality: English
Family relations
          wife: Eleanor O'Shaughnessy (from 1873)
Language: English
Literary period: Victorian
          Junior assistant, library of the British Museum : June 1861
          Assistant, zoological department in the British Museum: August 1863
Residence: London: 14 March 1844
Cause of death: Chill
First RPO edition: 2000