World-Losers & World-Forsakers


Arthur O’Shaughnessy

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey


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 forever, it seams.


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.


A breath of our inspiration

Is the life of a each generation;

A wondrous thing of our dreaming,

Unearthly, impossible seeming—

The soldier, the king, and the peasant,

Are working together in one,

Till our dream shall become their Present,

And their work in the world be done.


They had no vision amazing

Of the goodly house they are raising,

They had no divine foreshadowing

Of the land to which they are going;

But on one man’s soul it hath broken,

A light that doth not depart, 

And his look, or a word he hath spoken,

Wrought flame in another man’s heart.


And, therefore, to-day is thrilling

With a past day’s late fulfilling;

And the multitudes are enlisted

In the faith that their fathers resisted;

And, scorning the dream of to-morrow,

Are bringing to pass as they may

In the world, for its joy or its sorrow,

The dream that was scorned yesterday.


But we, with our dreaming and singing,

Ceaseless and sorrows we!

The glory about us clinging

Of the glorious futures we see,

Our souls with high music ringing—

O men, it must ever be—

That we dwell in our dreaming and singing

A little apart from ye.


For we are afar with the dawning.

And the suns that are not yet high:

And out of the infinite mourning,

Intrepid, you hear us cry—

How, spite of your human scorning,

Once more God’s future draws nigh,

And already goes forth the warning.

That ye of the past must die.


Great hail! we cry to the corners

From the dazzling, unknown shore,

Bring us hither your sun and you summers,

And renew our world as of yore:

You shall teach us your song’s new numbers,

And things that we dreamed not before;

Yes, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers

And a singer who sings no more.


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