‘Ode’ by Arthur O’Shaughnessy

This poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1844–1881) provided the title for Hannah Frank’s drawing ‘On Whom the Pale Moon Gleams’:


HF064m On Whom the Pale Moon Gleams-193x300
On Whom the Pale Moon Gleams, 1929, Pen and ink, 43.5cm x 26.6cm. (GUM November 1929)

WE are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-brokers,
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 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.

                            by Arthur O’Shaughnessy