M is for the movers and shakers

Movers and shakers are people who initiate change and influence events, now most often applied to the rich and powerful in politics and business. The public perception of the term began after the first performance of Sir Edward Elgar’s  choral work The Music Makers, in 1912. The work is a setting of Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s 1874 poem ‘Ode’. That poem singles out poets and musicians as those who guide our thinking:

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.

You may know the famous first lines of that poem as spoken by Willy Wonka, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:

The premise of Roald Dahl’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) asks: what would an industrial factory engaged in mass production look like if it was built by a fantasist, dreamer, and romantic in a world dominated by pragmatists, realists, and materialists. In this lonely island, Wonka wonders who will inherit his life’s work and hopes that in the next generation of children there might still be romantics. His sampling of youth via the lottery tickets provides a referendum on Charlie’s generation. The selected tourists to Wonka’s candyland are a fools gallery of technocrats, capitalists, hedonists… and opportunists. – Aharon Varady