by 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 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 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.

Summary of Ode

  • Popularity of “Ode”: Arthur O’ Shaughnessy, a great English poet, wrote ‘Ode’. It is also known as ‘Ode – We are the music makers’ by the first line of the poem. It is very popular on account of its theme of the permanence of creativity in art and music. The poem appreciates the efforts of artists. It also illustrates how they play a pivotal role in shaping the world.
  • “Ode” A Comment on the Value of Arts: The poet addresses the musicians and calls them “music makers” and “dreamers of dreams.” At the outset, the speaker praises the artists for being forceful to the point that their writings can shake the world. He also calls them revolutionary beings as their work can bring joy and new life in a dull and boring society. He adds that they spend most of their time alone far from the disharmony of disturbing society to produce something praise-worthy. They sacrifice the precious moments of their lives to understand the beauty of human nature. Although they stay away from society, yet their writings address the issues that drag the society forward. In fact, their isolation paves the way for the creation of great art and gives them quality time and space to produce something extraordinary with their gifted brain.
  • Major Themes in “Ode”: Appreciation of art, isolation, and beauty are the major themes of this poem. The poem discusses two things; the importance of arts and the role that artists play in this world to bring change. Their timeless and immortal works not only give positive vibes in the society but also help people come out of unimaginative, dull and monotonous existence. Also, with their indomitable spirits, they explain complicated things, which are far from human understanding. Thus, the poet puts these artists on the highest pedestal and calls them immortal beings.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Ode”

literary devices are tools used by writers to enhance the meanings of their texts and allow readers to interpret them in multiple ways. Arthur O’Shaughnessy has also employed some literary devices in this poem to express his ideas. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “And we are the dreamers of dreams” and the sound of /i/ in “Built Nineveh with our sighing”.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession such as the sound of /w/ in “To the old of the new world’s worth” and the sound of /c/ in “Shall go forth and conquer a crown”.
  3. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Wandering by lone sea-breakers”; “We fashion an empire’s glory” and “Shall go forth and conquer a crown”.
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal meanings. Here, “deathless ditties” is the symbol of timeless stories.
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a line, verse or clause that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it moves over the next line. For example,

“Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.”

  1. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. Throughout the poem, the poet has used the extended metaphor of music to compare different objects with adventure and pain.
  2. Allusion: Allusion is a belief and an indirect reference of a person, place, thing or idea of a historical, cultural, political or literary significance. For example, the poet has taken some words from the Bible such as, “Nineveh” and “Babel.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Ode”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three eight-lined stanzas in the poem.
  2. Octave: An octave is an eight-line stanza. Here, all the stanzas in the poem is an octave.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues to the end.
  4. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. Such as, “story/glory”, “breakers/forsakers” and “birth/worth.”

 Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used while teaching children about the importance and the power of creativity. These could also be used to make them imaginative.

“With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory”