ISC “We are the Music Makers” : Assess the Idea of Art for Art’s Sake


 We are the Music Makers: Assess the idea of Art for Art’s Sake

Question : How does the poem  “We are the Music Makers” assess the famous idea of art for art’s sake ? Discuss.

Answer:  Art for art’s sake is the rendition of a  French slogan,  l’art pour l’art, which was coined early in the nineteenth century by the French philosopher victor cousin. Art for art’s sake conveys the chief or only aim of a work of art is the self – expression of the individual artist, who creates it.

     It is a movement which emphasised only the aesthetc importance of art, and believes that art need no justification and it doesn’t need to serve any social, political and didactic purpose.

      But this idea was criticised by several philosophers and thinkers. Freidrich Nietzsche claimed that there is no art for art’s sake. He asked “…….what does all art do ? Does it not praise ? Glorify? Select? Highlight ? By doing all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations ….Art is the great stimulus to life:  how could one understand it as purposeless, as aimless, as  l’art pour l’art? 

     O’ Shaughnessy’s poem written in the 19 th century favours the idea of ” Art for life’s sake”. A work of art (i.e. music, song, poem, painting, drama or photography etc)  can help one deal with life’s challenges.

     In”We are the Music Makers” the poet celebrates the immortality of art and artists, which tend to glorify the life by raising it to greater heights.

      The poem uses various expressions like “music – makers”,  “dreamers  of  dreams”, ” movers and  shakers”  to glorify the artists and their achievements. It describes the life of an artist, the immorality of their artwork and their impact on the society and the world. The artists have the potential to shake The world with their revolutionary ideas, which they deliver through their art work ( their music, stories, visual art, drama, poems etc.).

     In the poem, ” we are the Music Makers ” the poet has depicted the artist as an integral part of the society, though they are considered as  –
“World – losers and world forsakers
Upon whom the pale moon gleams”.
  In the above lines  the artists are considered as escapists and lunatic which shows their aloofness and madness but they do so for the sake of their art, to get inspiration for their new creations.

      Although they are considered as escapists and mad but they have a great impact on the world they can ” build up the world’s great cities ” with their everlasting songs and give shape to an empires’ glory with their stories. They can  move and shake the world with their art.

   The artists go on with their timeless creations even when confronted with conflicting situations. But they never stop. Art goes on in its own way irrespective of the outer world. Art has the power to bring change in society through the opinion of the people, hence the artists are true movers and shakers. For example, consider”The  Gift of India” by Sarojini Naidu. It is a poem , a work of art that encouraged feelings of patriotism and national pride among the Indians during India’s freedom struggle. At the same time it admires the role of the Indian soldiers, who laid down their lives in the First World War for the British cause.

    So the artists challenge the status quo (existing social and political situation) to bring about a social change. Grand empires rise and fall as a result of what they create.
    Moreover, their creations are immortal which continue to shake the world even after they die.



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