Friday, June 10, 2016

Poetry Friday: Ozymandias

As we toured Sans-Souci Palace, the home of Henri Christophe, King of Haiti, my daughter quoted Shelley's poem, "Ozymandias."  The picture above was taken in Henri Christophe's throne room; as you can see, it is roofless.  It has been ever since the palace was destroyed in an earthquake in 1842, but Christophe's own life ended twenty-two years earlier when he shot himself in this room, saying that a great man should not survive longer than his glory.

Sans-Souci was compared in its day with Versailles, and it is still impressive to see.

Shelley's poem was inspired by a statue from the thirteenth century BC, acquired by the British Museum and on display in London.  The statue depicted Ramasses II of Egypt, known also by his Greek name of Ozymandias.

All human power is temporary, the "traveller from an antique land" tells us.  When we look around us today, this is a good thing to remember.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

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."

Here's today's roundup.


jama said...

Thanks for sharing these great pics! Had never heard of Sans Souci Palace, but I have visited Versailles. Shelley's poem is indeed a great reminder that human power is temporary, yet ironic in that the remains of what is manmade still has the power to leave future civilizations awestruck, teasing our thoughts about what the past was really like.

Brenda Harsham said...

Makes me think of Trump. I love that poem. The poet always has the last word.

Mrs. Bennett said...

When I taught this poem to my standardly disengaged 10th graders, I would stand on a chair...and shout out Ozymandias's lines.
That woke them up! Your pictures are certainly another way to get attention! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Diane Mayr said...

The poem means so much more to me now than when we read it in high school. I think school should be mandated for later in life, after one has had some experience!

Books4Learning said...

Looks like an incredible sight. Excellent poem to accompany the pictures. Places like that are amazing to visit. I was able to see first hand many amazing old structures in Greece and Italy last summer.

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, the photos are quite impressive. The palace is an amazing site an well-worth the climb. I visualized walking the walk with you and decided to read the poem out loud to get the same effect. Would you allow me to post the photo of the climb in my next gallery, Summerscapes, for all to see (compliments of you)? Can you please send me your last name along with the photo if it okay via cvarsalona at gmail?

Violet Nesdoly said...

What an interesting roofless castle, with a chilling story to go with it. Thanks for reminding me of that Shelley poem. There is much richness with history and poetry join forces.