Movers and shakers

Art, culture, poetry


We are the music makers,

And we are the dreamer 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 an empire down.

We, in the ages lying

In the buried past of 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.

A breath of our inspiration,

Is the life of 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 foreshowing

Of the land to which they are going:

But on one man’s soul it hath broke,

A light that doth not depart

And his look, or a word he hath spoken,

Wrought flame in another man’s heart.

And therefore today 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 tomorrow,

Are bringing to pass, as they may,

In the world, for it’s joy or it’s sorrow,

The dream that was scorned yesterday.

But we, with our dreaming and singing,

Ceaseless and sorrowless 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 morning

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 your summers,

And renew our world as of yore;

You shall teach us your song’s new numbers,

And things that we dreamt not before;

Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,

And a singer who sings no more.





The poem in it’s entirety doesn’t appear often, and that is one of the reasons I wanted to make a handmade book with it at the centre.  The first three stanzas are well known and loved, and Elgar was so moved he composed a work for it. It cannot get much better than that can it? He wasn’t the only artist wanting to pay homage either. I had known the line

“We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams” for some time, and like me, others have been entranced by it and used it in novels and lyrics.  It has a lyricism that evokes feeling , it connects with some longing that lies at the heart of being human.  A longing that arises from nowhere, not knowing  a destination , a longing that is unlikely to be gratified, a longing that creates a desire inside to produce, replicate, grow, become something other than the meagre entity we appear to ourselves.

And so we all continue to sing our songs, and dream our dreams, and when we forget to do so, we are less than we want to be.  In my world, I create connections between writers, between artists, between receivers.  I do it because it pleases me, because words resonate, and the messages are worthy of repeat. IMG_8368IMG_8362 IMG_8370



2 thoughts on “Movers and shakers

  1. I, as a composer, should read this poem more often to remind myself that beyond the notes on the page, there exists a universe I should never take for granted. Thank you for posting this.


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