“We are the music makers,
and we are the dreamers of dreams”
– from Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy
As I watched the fantastic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971 – the original one with Gene Wilder in it) at the weekend with my family, this quote, hauntingly spoken by Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) in response to Veruca Salt commenting in disbelief about snozberries, struck a deep chord in me and helped me make sense of the whole story in a way I hadn’t quite realised before.
I find it interesting that this quote was added more or less at the last minute by an uncredited screenwriter, David Seltzer, and was not in either Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964), on which the film is based, or in the original screenplay (thanks to the blog article We are the music makers on Aharon’s Omphalos for this information – his discussion of the use of this quote in the film is quite enlightening). Strange that such a, at least to me, pivotal quote could have been inserted by an uncredited screenwriter almost as an afterthought.
I know the poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy well since I sung the choral piece Elgar was inspired to write for it with the Newbury Choral Society a few years ago. Here are the first few stanzas in full:
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 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.
You can read the poem in its entirety on Wikisource:
This poem is also, apparently, the origin of the phrase “movers and shakers“. To me, it has always been a reminder that we can all effect change on our society. It doesn’t matter if we are the renowned author or the uncredited scriptwriter, we can all make a difference and we do make a difference everyday even in apparent small actions. Whether it is simply carrying a reusable bag for shopping, asking a loved one about their day or allowing a stranger in a rush to go ahead of us in a queue – I really believe all the small stuff adds up.
There’s an opportunity coming up to make a difference that I’m really looking forward to. Friend, fellow Athena networker and Personal Development Coach, Lis Allen, is putting together a strategy for effective positive changes for mothers everywhere. She’s inviting all local women to attend an event at Arlington Arts Centre. You’ve heard of the Vagina Monologues? Well, this is the Vagina Dialogues! The idea is to engage in a conversation about mothers and it is relevant to you whether you are a mother yourself or whether you simply were at the receiving end of being mothered. Sorry, women-only for this event but she does promise a Men-Only Dialogue to come soon! For more information and to book your ticket, please click on the link below: