We are the Music Makers : by Arthur William Edgar O’ Shaughnessy

We are the Music Makers  : line by line explanation and summary 

Stanza 1 

 We are the…………Of the world for ever,it seems.

Explanation :

In the first line of the poem the poet says “we” for all the creative artists,as he speaks through all the artists. He collectively calls all the artists “music makers”. He refers them as the dreamers of the dreams means they give dreams to our eyes. Here in the first stanza O’ Shaughnessy  tells us that how this group of people – artists – play an active role in shaping the world. 

    He says that the artists not only have the ability to create real things like music but they can also create unreal things like dreams. 

     The artists wander alone by the seashores or they sit beside the isolated streams for the sake of their creations. But the society consider them as ” losers” and  ” forsakers” , as they remain aloof and do not engage themselves in worldly pursuits. 

    Although they remain aloof from the society, but actually they play an active role in shaping the world. The artists who forsake the world and wander by the lonely places and are viewed as weird are in fact the ones who shape  and shake the world. Through their art , music , paintings, or their writings, they have the power to stir the world.


Stanza 2 

 With wonderful…………..Can trample an empire down.

Explanation :

    In the second stanza the poet explains the power of creation and timelessness of art. 

     A poet or a musician can  “build up the world’s great cities” in their wonderful everlasting songs. 

    The actual cities which provides the subject for the songs have been ruined long long ago but their glory and fame is still alive by the everlasting songs created by these music makers.

     Similarly, the writers through their stories about ancient kings and their kingdom give shape to their empire and their glory.

    Because such epics and poems are intangible in nature, they cannot be completely destroyed. Means that the fantasy that comes to an artist’s mind can shape up things he builds. It is after all the poems, stories, songs, paintings and other arts that mark the glory of a civilisation.

   The places and civilisation mentioned in these great works may have been destroyed but their existence remains, thanks to the art of the dreamers of dreams.

    The subversive nature of art to undermine a government is also shown in the next part of the second stanza. It states that a man may conquer through his ambition nut all it takes is a musical bar to bring down empires.

    The man with a dream and adequate opportunity (pleasure) at hand can give that dream a concrete structure. He is the one who shall go ahead and conquer a crown. Here the “crown” refers to an extraordinary achievement.

      “And three with a new song’s measure

      Can trample an empire down.”

   The poet says, if more (three) people come together on any such new, novel idea (new song’s measure), they can trample an empire down. This is how high is the potential of artistry.

   The artists can bring more change in people’s mind than anyone else.

   Thus a song writer or a poet can hive a man the freedom to bring about a revolution.

  Stanza 3

We, in the……………Or one that is coming to birth.

 Explanation :

  In this stanza the poet  describes the historical role pf artists and tries to equate the art with divinity as he alludes to the Biblical cities of Nineveh and Babel (Babylon).

     Artists belong to all ages. The ancient city of Nineveh was built by the artists and was flourishing capital of Assyrian Empire  which was later abandoned and destroyed and  never rebuilt. The people of Babel were dedicated to build a tower so high that it reaches heaven. 

       It is believed that Nineveh was created by the artists out of distress whereas Babel was created out of joy. Here Nineveh and Babel are the symbolic of an artist’s ability to destroy and create. 

     O’Shaughnessy says that the artists are capable of overthrowing the old world with their prophecy of a new world. According to him, each age is the result of this dream of these artists ; this is again replaced by another dream of their own. So, their dreams are capable of replacing themselves to give birth to a new dream of a new modern world.

     The men who think and dream – the music makers – are really important and immortal in this world.

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