A poem without an author

Kistler, Jordan (2016) A poem without an author. Victorian Literature and Culture, 44 (4). pp. 875-886. ISSN 1470-1553 (https://doi.org/10.1017/S1060150316000255)

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“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams…” These lines begin an “Ode” which has permeated culture throughout the last hundred years. The “Ode” was written in 1873 by Arthur W.E. O’Shaughnessy, and yet the name O’Shaughnessy brings little recognition today, even from scholars of the Victorian period. In this article, I will explore this phenomenon to demonstrate that circumstances occurring in the twentieth century severed the poem from its author, allowing the Ode to gain cultural traction at the same time as O’Shaughnessy’s poetic reputation languished. A consideration of the historical context of the poem, alongside its formal and thematic elements, demonstrates how the poem survived and promulgated despite the loss of O’Shaughnessy from the canon of Victorian poets.