Saturday, 25 June 2016

Ozymandias-A Poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley 

I met a traveler 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 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 [The pharaoh's boasts are now as empty as the desert]
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, [surrounding his decaying statue. The sands are like time itself: endless and boundless.]
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
It is frequently anthologized and is probably Shelley's most famous short poem. It was written in competition with his friend Horace Smith, who wrote another sonnet entitled "Ozymandias". The central theme of "Ozymandias" is the inevitable decline of all people, and of the empires they build, however mighty in their own time. Percy Shelley apparently wrote this sonnet in competition with his friend Horace Smith (1779-1849; English poet and novelist), as Smith published a sonnet a month after Shelley's in the same magazine. It takes the same subject, tells the same story, and makes the same moral point. It was originally published under the same title as Shelley's verse; but in later collections Smith retitled it "On A Stupendous Leg of Granite, Discovered Standing by Itself in the Deserts of Egypt, with the Inscription Inserted Below".
In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert 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 fragments huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
Trunkless: without upper body (the main part of the body of a human being or an animal, excluding the head, neck, and limbs).
Frown: facial expression of displeasure or concentration.
Sneer: facial expression of scorn or hostility in which the upper lip may be raised.
Wreck: destroy something completely or damage it beyond repair.
Bare: undecorated.
Lone: isolated.
Chace: chase.
Ozymandias was another name for Ramesses the Great, Pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. Ozymandias represents a transliteration into Greek of a part of Ramesses' throne name. The sonnet paraphrases the inscription on the base of the statue, given by Diodorus Siculus as "King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works."
Shelley's poem is often said to have been inspired by the arrival in London of a colossal statue of Ramesses II, acquired for the British Museum by the Italian adventurer Giovanni Belzoni in 1816.
"Ozymandias" has two settings. The first is the place where the narrator meets the traveler (Line 1); the second is the setting in the traveler's tale about a crumbling statue of an Egyptian king (pharaoh). The statue is at the site of the ancient Egyptian capital, Thebes (about 420 miles south of Cairo), which was divided by the Nile River. On the eastern side of the river was the city proper. On the western side was a vast cemetery, or city of the dead, where statues, temples, and tombs memorialized the pharaohs. Living at the site were priests who conducted religious services and artisans and laborers who designed, built, and maintained the monuments.
Narrator: The poet, Shelley. He assumes the role of auditor to the tale of the traveler (Line 1) and tells the reader what the traveler said.
Traveler: A person from an ancient land who tells his tale to the narrator.
Ozymandias: Egyptian Pharaoh who is the subject of the traveler's tale. Ozymandias (also spelled Osymandias) is another name for one of Egypt's most famous rulers, Ramses II (or Ramses the Great). He was born in 1314 B.C. and ruled Egypt for 66 years as the third king of the 19th Dynasty. His exact age at death is uncertain, but it was between 90 and 99. Ramses was a warrior king and a builder of temples, statues and other monuments. He was pharaoh at the time Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, as recounted in the second book of the Bible, Exodus (derived from the Greek word for departure). In Cecil B. de Mille's melodramatic film The Ten Commandments, the late Yul Brynner portrays Ramses, and Charlton Heston plays Moses.
Sculptor: The craftsman who sculpted the statue of Ramses.
The sonnet
The sonnet originated in Sicily in the 13th Century with Giacomo da Lentino (1188-1240), a lawyer.
The poetic traditions of the Provençal region of France apparently influenced him, but he wrote his poems in the Sicilian dialect of Italian. Some authorities credit another Italian, Guittone d'Arezzo (1230-1294), with originating the sonnet. The English word "sonnet" comes from the Italian word "sonetto," meaning "little song." Some early sonnets were set to music, with accompaniment provided by a lute.
The Italian poet Petrarch (1304-1374), a Roman Catholic priest, popularized the sonnet more than two centuries before Shakespeare was born. Other popular Italian sonneteers were Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), Italy's most famous and most accomplished writer, and Guido Cavalcante (1255-1300). The format of Petrarch's sonnets differs from that of Shakespeare. Petrarch's sonnets each consist of an eight-line stanza (octave) and a six-line stanza (sestet). The first stanza presents a theme, and the second stanza develops it. he sonnet form was introduced in England by Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547). They translated Italian sonnets into English and wrote sonnets of their own. Wyatt and Surrey sometimes replaced Petrarch's scheme of an eight-line stanza and a six-line stanza with three four-line stanzas and a two-line conclusion known as a couplet. Shakespeare adopted the latter scheme in his sonnets.
The might and majesty of a king do not last; only great art endures. The statue, symbolizing the power and glory of the pharaoh, is crumbling. Yet the arrogant sneer on the "shattered visage" remains intact as a testament to the ability of the sculptor to read and capture the passions of his ruler. Thus, it is the pharaoh's lowly servant, the sculptor, who delivers the more powerful message here. The king's message–"look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair"–is an ironic indictment of his pride. Oddly, though, Shelley's theme–valid as a general statement–does not ultimately apply to Ozymandias, or Ramses II. For Ramses remains today perhaps the most famous of Egyptian pharaohs. In addition, many of the monuments erected during his rule still stand. Shelley's condemnation of tyranny applied as much to the English government of his time as it did to the government of ancient Egypt. It was well known that he was not a supporter of monarchical government.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Bysshe is pronounced as if written bish.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded among the finest lyric poets in the English language. He is most famous for such classic anthology verse works as Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, and The Masque of Anarchy, which are among the most popular and critically acclaimed poems in the English language. His major works, however, are long visionary poems which included Prometheus Unbound, Alastor, Adonaïs, The Revolt of Islam, and the unfinished The Triumph of Life. The Cenci (1819) and Prometheus Unbound (1820) were dramatic plays in five and four acts respectively. He also wrote the Gothic novels Zastrozzi (1810) and St. Irvyne (1811) and the short works The Assassins (1814) and The Coliseum (1817). Shelley was famous for his association with John Keats and Lord Byron. The novelist Mary Shelley was his second wife. On 8 July 1822, less than a month before his 30th birthday, Shelley drowned in a sudden storm while sailing back from Livorno. There were those
who believed his death was not accidental. Some said that Shelley was depressed in those days and that he wanted to die; others that he did not know how to navigate; others believed that some pirates mistook the boat for Byron's and attacked him, and others have even more fantastical stories.[9][10] There is a mass of evidence, though scattered and contradictory, that Shelley may have been murdered for political reasons. Previously, at his cottage in Tann-yr-allt in Wales, he had been surprised and apparently attacked by a man who may have been an intelligence agent. Shelley's body washed ashore and later, in keeping with quarantine regulations, was cremated on the beach near Viareggio. A reclining statue of Shelley's body, depicting him washed up onto the shore, created by sculptor Edward Onslow Ford at the behest of Shelley's daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Shelley, is the centerpiece of the Shelley Memorial at University College, Oxford.
Henry David Thoreau's civil disobedience and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's passive resistance were influenced and inspired by Shelley's nonviolence in protest and political action. It is known that Gandhi would often quote Shelley's Masque of Anarchy., which has been called "perhaps the first modern statement of the principle of nonviolent resistance."
Shelley was a strong advocate for social justice for the 'lower classes'. He witnessed many of the same mistreatments occurring in the domestication and slaughtering of animals, and he became a fighter for the rights of all living creatures that he saw being treated unjustly.
In 2007, John Lauritsen published his book The Man Who Wrote "Frankenstein" in which he argued that Percy Bysshe Shelley's contributions to the novel were much more extensive than had previously been assumed. It has been known and not disputed that Shelley wrote the Preface, although uncredited, and that he contributed at least 4,000 words to the novel. Lauritsen sought to show Shelley's role and contributions in the writing of the novel.
About Ramses the Great
Third ruler of Egypt's 19th Dynasty during the prosperous New Kingdom. Future parts of this series will explore this great Egyptian Pharaoh as a builder, husband and father, military leader and deity. Ramesses II's father was Seti (Sethos) I and his mother was Tuya. He constructed many large monuments, including the archeological complex of Abu Simbel, and the mortuary temple known as the Ramesseum. In 1255 BC Ramesses and his queen Nefertari had traveled into Nubia to inaugurate a new temple, the great Abu Simbel. It is an ego cast in stone; the man who built it intended not only to become Egypt's greatest pharaoh but also one of its gods. On his death, he was buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings; his body was later moved to a royal cache where it was discovered in 1881, and is now on display in the Cairo Museum. He was identified with the pharaoh of whom the biblical figure Moses demanded his people be released from slavery, but this identification has often been disputed.

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