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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.