When I was a kid, no school-time chore vexed me more than reading and interpreting poems. But that's only because no one had thought to give them the Fire Joe Morgan treatment. If only, if only, the woodpecker sighs.
Today's selection is Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Originally published in the January 11, 1818 issue of London's The Examiner. Without further ado:
I met a traveller
Actually, let's have some further ado. What the hell kind of name is Bysshe? That name pretty much guaranteed the other street urchins would throw their porridge and dead rats and loose teeth at young Percy in order to earn half a pence from hardscrabble street merchants. If your goal was to have your son grow up a tortured soul, Mr. & Mrs. Shelley, then George W. Bush has a banner he'd love to sell you.
from an antique land
To get off track for a second: my aunt owned an antique shop. As such, her house was jammed with Important Things that were very fragile. Every holiday was eggshells and dread that you might break some irreplaceable treasure. To top off the misery, she also had white carpets. White carpets! You might as well hang a sign that says "I Hate Children."
In retrospect, I do see where she was coming from.
Anyway, one Thanksgiving her cat knocked over my aunt's glass of red wine into the carpet, it went everywhere, and the stain never came out. So, so wonderful, and the only time a cat has been useful. True story!
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs
MurderedagirlinthebathroomMurderedagirlinthebathroomMurderedagirlinthebathroom *crosses fingers*
Oh. [kicks dirt]
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
My son dropped his popsicle and is demanding I buy him a new one. Not gonna happen (until the crying reaches the five minute mark).
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies,
Once again, Eyes Without A Face accurately describes the human condition.
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
See what I mean about Billy Idol? Genius.
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Hey Shelley you dipshit, it should read "the sculptor read those passions well." Get a copy of Elements of Style already.
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
Speaking of lifeless things, Percy's wife was Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein. They were the 1800's equivalent of Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Bonus fact: at one point Percy owned 1/5th of 1% of Big Ben.
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
FOR THE LAST TIME MOLA RAM JR. NO DESSERT UNTIL YOU FINISH YOUR DINNER!
And on the pedestal these words appear:
Gas, Grass or Ass, Nobody Rides For Free
"My name is Ozymandias,
Not Bill or George or anything but Ozymandias.
king of kings:
Charlton Heston would like a word with this statue.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Now the point of the whole poem is that there was a powerful king, whose entire kingdom and indeed, his legacy were [SPOILER ALERT] lost to the ravages of time. It's a cautionary tale that nothing lasts forever. Ok, great. But this could have been summed up in two lines, Percy.
Like a dead l'il kitten that's flat and rotten
You gonna die and be forgotten
Simplicity, sir, simplicity.
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Are a bunch of used condoms the Cavity Creeps left behind.
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away
Yeah, I bought him the fucking popsicle.