The phrase 'movers and shakers' derives from a poem by 19th-century poet Arthur O'Shaughnessy, entitled 'Ode'. The poem is familiar to many today for its opening lines, "We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams", which feature in the Aphex Twin's 'Selected Ambient Works 85-92', and also in the film of 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'.

The stanza goes:
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.

As one can see, O'Shaughnessy believes that poetic, creative minds were the 'movers and shakers' of the world. The phrase has, however, come to refer to influential, powerful people in general, indeed people who are not usually seen as being creative at all - bankers, businessmen, financiers, thrusting young turks and so forth.

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