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SaganRitual's avatar

Are artists really as powerful as Arthur O'Shaughnessy makes them seem in his poem Ode?

Asked by SaganRitual (2072points) October 11th, 2018

I’ve quoted the poem at the bottom. He talks of artists raising and trampling empires. Do artists really have that much power? I know that some artists are also protesters, but are they really made that much more powerful as protesters, simply because of their talent and/or popularity? What would make artists especially important in political matters? What are some examples of artists having such profound effect on empires? Is this strictly a historical phenomenon, or could it (does it) still happen today?

Here’s the poem: Ode, by Arthur O’Shaughnessy

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 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 the 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.

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5 Answers

flutherother's avatar

It is true in that the world must be imagined before it can be created.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Yes it’s true. But the poem conveniently excludes the ironic fact that for all that power and influence, the price of slavery to the muses is a lifetime of destitution for 95% percent of dedicated practicioners. When it comes to success, it’s preferable to exploit those of talent rather than suffer the misfortunes accompanying the “gift” of talent itself.

kritiper's avatar

Any greatness is implied. No real basis in fact.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Isn’t the gauge of greatness determined in $ (like everything else)?

mazingerz88's avatar

Could be behind powerful world conquerors and builders, ideas inspired by artists’ works of art.

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