Sunday, May 4, 2008

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Dad said he lay awake the night after our homestead trip, thinking about the sad obliteration of his father's farm and trying to remember the words to Shelley's Ozymandias:
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 sands stretch far away.
The poem reminds me of Mr. Lydgate in Middlemarch and, in general, of scholarly attempts to gain fame by shedding "new light" on ancient subjects.

1 comment:

Karen said...

We read this poem in our lessons not very long ago--one of the few times Dad quoted from a poem I knew about!--And I know where to find it!