Sunday, July 28, 2013

Shelley - Poetry

It's been a while since I mentioned this and (who knows?) there might be new readers stumbling across this.  The Poetry series is basically me reading the poems from a book called 'The 100 Best Poems of All Time', edited by Leslie Pockell.  The aim of the series is to try and improve my ignorance in matters poetical.  You can read more of the posts by clicking the 'Poetry' tag at the bottom.

The next poem is a familiar one.  It's 'Ozymandias' by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sand stretch far away.

A powerful poem, well deserving of its fame.  "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"  What a line! I'd never noticed, until I typed it just now, how much impact the next line has too.  Nothing beside remains. Whatever fame and power Ozymandias had is gone, scoured away by sand and time.
This falls well in line with Marcus Aurelius, too.
Within a very little while, thou wilt be either ashes, or a sceletum [skeleton]; and a name perchance; and perchance, not so much as a name. And what is that but an empty sound, and a rebounding echo?
Everything ends and is eroded by the world.  And no boast sounds more hollow than one that has totally been defeated by history.

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