‘Movers and Shakers’ – a Modern Concept?


I do enjoy it when I follow a trail and it leads to a quite unexpected quarry, with links and surprises worthy of some of the writings of Kate Shrewsday.

This evening I learnt that my publisher and friend has been called upon to take the place of an orchestra’s lost/stolen/strayed violinist for an upcoming performance. She mentioned that one of the pieces was ‘We are the Music Makers’ by Peter Klotsow. Well, I couldn’t find the latter composer at all, but was reminded of some music by Elgar set to a poem of that name. I found a ‘Proms’ recording and listened entranced, but noted that the words were (implicitly) attributed to Elgar, and I knew that to be wrong. Further research unearthed that the actual writer of this charming tribute to all artists, writers and musicians was Arthur O’Shaughnessy. The full Ode is as follows:

We are the music-makers,
aAnd we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
aAnd sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
aOn whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
oOf the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
aWe build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
wWe fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
aShall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
 Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
iIn the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
aAnd Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
tTo the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
oOr one that is coming to birth.

Arthur_O'Shaughnessy_-_portrait_2I’m sure that the last two lines of the first stanza will leap out at you, as they did at me. Surely, ‘Movers and Shakers of the World’ is modern and most likely Our Merry Kin Big Business in origin? Not so. Arthur was an ever-so British – of all things – herpetologist. Also, he was born in 1844 and died in 1881. 

He is, indeed, credited as being the inventor of that term – which has therefore been wriggling around with his snakes and lizards for far longer than I ever would have thought possible.

© Colonialist October 2015 (WordPress)
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About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies.
This entry was posted in History, Language, Music, Poems, Quotes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to ‘Movers and Shakers’ – a Modern Concept?

  1. Tokeloshe says:

    I found this post very interesting.
    Can you imagine being in that audience ?

    Like

  2. Madhu says:

    Who would have thought! And brilliant closing lines too. Thanks for enlightening me Colonel.

    Incidentally I am a huge fan of Kate and regret not being able to spend more time on her site of late.

    Like

  3. Masterly, Col, and thank you so much for the gorgeous poem and the honourable mention! I shall read that a lot more, I think. Wonderful poem.

    Like

  4. Barb says:

    What an educational post. As I walked through England recently, I had the same thoughts (For each age is a dream that is dying,Or one that is coming to birth.), but I certainly didn’t put it into such eloquent words. Thank you.

    Like

  5. Love this ode. He would have a field day here with all the lizards, alligators and iguanas that frequent my territory. 🙂

    Like

  6. We have traits in common, Les. I’m always going on treasure hunts like yours, starting with a chance word. The Music Makers was part of a cento poem of mine a while back, called What Wild Ecstasy? The Wikki entry is intriguing, with all those citations of Shaughnessy’s words here, there and everywhere.. Not content with being mega – plagiarised, the poor chap died at 36.

    Like

  7. equinoxio21 says:

    A remarquable text my friend. (I am getting increasingly cross-confused between french and English spelling. You blokes write remarkable with a K, right?) Tss. The Brits never could spell right. 😉
    “Anyways”, the entire text is impressive. very Victorian I dare say and indeed the last two lines are eternal. And apply so to to-day’s troubled times. “Out, out brief candle”. A lovely week to you, the last watchman at the last outpost of the Empire.
    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    • colonialist says:

      The Brits DO spell right – also as rite, write and wright . Enough to cause a riot!
      And to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • equinoxio21 says:

        I knew you would take the bait my friend. Mine was a trite comment. 🙂
        Fact is: between french, english and spanish where so many words are similar but written differently, I get increasingly confused by double consonants. Particularly between english and french, where the rules differ. (Not to mention American english) Thank you for setting the record rite. I mean wright. Or is it straight?
        Have a good week.

        Like

        • colonialist says:

          T’right it was! If there is a language, confusion is sure to abound.
          That would be ‘strite’ in Cockney!
          Thanks! Would I be greedy if I took two?

          Liked by 1 person

          • equinoxio21 says:

            Two would not be a bait anymore but a bit. Hold your horses. 😉
            (About cockney – Do you remember Streptoe and son (or sthg like that)? I was in London in July. Hadn’t been in a while. I confess I had to pay attention to the accent and rhythm of the locals. Here we are mainly exposed to “murrikan” English. An entirely different dialect if you ask me.
            Hope all is well over there yonder.

            Like

            • colonialist says:

              In parts of England I simply couldn’t make out WHAT they were saying. At least I can understand most A Mary Kin!

              Liked by 1 person

              • equinoxio21 says:

                Well… I was raised bilingual (french-english) in Kenya amongst other places. Then went to Graduate school in the US. “Alabamer”, Deep, deep South. For the first three weeks I thought they were NOT speaking english. Then ah learned Sudern. Bless mah soul. 😉
                Tot ziens (for a change)

                Like

  8. de Wets Wild says:

    He could smuggle a few geckos in that moustache!

    Liked by 1 person

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