I have a poetry earworm. It’s not my first though they’re not as frequent as their musical cousins. Yesterday was a primo day for music earworms. Every other uttered sentence seemed to be lyrics from this song or that one, repeatedly inspiring my inner orchestra to lift bows.
Deep sigh. Snarls by the end of the day. It’s not that I don’t like inner soundtracks, it’s that their frequency and two-bar nature start to wear.
But, I digress.
Ozymandias. It’s a sonnet written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in response to a literary bet. Would that I could do as well. I first encountered it in my grade twelve English Lit class. It was love at first read.
That it’s on my mind is not, I suppose, a surprise. Pretentious obliviousness is thick on the ground these days, and the echo chamber of social media makes it worse. Is it ironic that they continue to miss the lesson?
We are but fleeting.
Ozymandias 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. (Percy Bysshe Shelley, January 11, 1818)