Saturday, January 12, 2013

Exploring Ozymandias

The following is Shelley’s famous poem Ozymandias …


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said - “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart … 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.”

Shelley (1792 – 1822)

Largest statue .. Ozymandias was the Greek name for Ramses II of Egypt

Antique … old and often valuable, of interest to collectors, and characteristic of a period and style of manufacture

 … the hand that mocked … the sculptor in imitating and deriding the sculptured passions … the heart that fed … the King’s which has ‘fed’ his passions

Rhyme structure … abab cded feghgh

This is commonly regarded as a sonnet … however because of the unusual rhyme structure it sometimes regarded as a sonnet-stanza … it is a great poem and one often included in anthologies … why is this so?

Perhaps because of the comparison between the exploits of a great man when viewed against time and nature – I am reminded of another great poem in this respect – ‘man may come and man may go but I go on forever’. And of course ‘the sands of time’ has been overdone with all those footprints taking place – perhaps we can blame Shelley for starting the drift. I rather like the fact that although Ozymandias has fallen by the wayside his words still remain – the poem highlighting the power of words to survive. At any rate a timeless poem if you forgive the pun.

What is eternal and … will your voice be lost in the sands of time … what words would you like to see on your headstone … and how would you like to be remembered?

My poetic response -


I am I, I am
I am Ozie and a man
I am, I am, an Ozie am
King of Kings I am I am 

I also am you man I am
I also am you woman am
I am the you, you see -
the I that is the you in me

© Richard Scutter 11 February 2008

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