Tuesday, January 12, 2016


So there we all were at the breakfast table celebrating Cecie's 15th birthday when John said (in relation to what, I can't remember), "You remember OZYMANDIAS!"

And then, right there in the middle of a 15 year old's birthday breakfast, it came back to me -- my father's frequent reminder of Ozymandias.  Did he (my father or John) believe that we (Cecie or I) had visions of grandeur . . . of overweening self-worth?  Or were they simply sharing their worldly wisdom.  In any case, Marash Girl will share her worldly wisdom with you, right here.

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 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.'

Note: Ozymandias is regarded as among Shelley's most famous works.  Wikipedia has the following to say about the poem:  "In antiquity, Ozymandias was a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Shelley began writing his poem in 1817, soon after the announcement of the British Museum's acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Ramesses II from the thirteenth century BC, leading some scholars to believe that Shelley was inspired by this. The 7.25-ton fragment of the statue's head and torso had been removed in 1816 from the mortuary temple of Ramesses at Thebes by Italian adventurer Giovanni Battista Belzoni. It was expected to arrive in London in 1818, but did not arrive until 1821.[5][6] Shelley wrote the poem in friendly competition with his friend and fellow poet Horace Smith (1779–1849), who also wrote a sonnet on the same topic with the very same title. Smith's poem was first published in The Examiner a few weeks after Shelley's sonnet. Both poems explore the fate of history and the ravages of time: that all prominent figures and the empires that they build are impermanent and their legacies fated to decay and oblivion."

Here is Horace Smith's poem with the same subject, with the same title.

by Horace Smith

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone, 
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws 
The only shadow that the Desart knows:- 
'I am great OZYMANDIAS,' saith the stone, 
'The King of Kings; this mighty City shows 
'The wonders of my hand.'- The City's gone,- 
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose 
The site of this forgotten Babylon. 

We wonder, and some Hunter may express 
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness 
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace, 
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess 
What powerful but unrecorded race 
Once dwelt in that annihilated place. 

What made one poem famous, and the other lost in the annals of time?  There are reasons, Marash Girl is certain.  Can you provide one?


  1. My opinion..words like "vast and trunkless legs" evoke more awe and wonder than "gigantic legs" - and so on. Shelley uses language that makes me shiver. The other guy is more like a Facebook post. But it may be that the Shelley resonates more because I have heard it before, too.

  2. To me, this posting, dear Marash Girl, is a most thought-provoking piece. With so many crushed megaliths of grandeur of yesteryear, only now, for "others" to find them out of layers of elusive sand sunk forever in the bed of history. By writing this, you stretch us back in imagination from your typewriting fingertips all the way back to a desolate place that once "WAS" Grand in Earthly Measure of Glory, but now pulverized into its true essence of dust. The first poem by Shelley, engages the peripatetic "the traveler from an antique land", then. And now, you seem to have done something similar; you have locked in the wisdom of John and Peter, and all of your contemporary wayfaring readers who are urged to see through the sand fog of time. I like what you've done here. Brilliant!