Monday, January 12, 2015

by 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 shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd 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.

 And the sculptor's art shows what a heartless brute Ozymandias was and the inscription makes a boast comparable to Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich". You can no doubt think of other examples of arrogant rulers of today and yesterday. Shelley points out that the high and mighty of today can be brought to nothing tomorrow.

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