Monday, June 7, 2010

Something to think about

Shelley's irony is fascinating here and to capture it, one must read this poem twice. First, put yourself in Ozymandias' place and read the quotation on the pedestal from his point of view. Then, go back and read it as that traveller had seen it in midst of that desolation that surrounded that ''shattered visage."

Ozymandias of Egypt

I met a traveller 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 sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley --


  1. We are all, each of us in many ways, Ozymandias. That, I take it, is Shelley's "message."

  2. R. T.,

    What are some of those ways?

  3. Well, for one, we (whatever our calling in life) all seek to leave our mark on the world, but much of what is left behind is boundless, bare decay. That, I would suggest, might be one reading of Shelley.

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  5. R. T.,

    I guess it's the belief that nothing will change, that what we do will last.

  6. joven,

    Thanks for the kind words. I shall visit you soon.