Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's, Part 21 (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Selected Poetry
Shelley, Percy Bysshe
Selected Poetry

Purchased at the Niagara Falls Outlet Mall discount book store. I used to give this store the epithet, "late, lamented," but it is not longer so "late" and it's harder to lament it's disappearance now that I no longer live in the area.

That said, I remember buying this, along with selected poems in the same edition from Blake, Byron and Wordsworth. I had sold my enormous hardcover text book tome of Romantic Poetry (regrettably) after college and really didn't have any poetry by the romantics on my shelves until I started finding cheap copies like this one for two or three dollars. They're nice to have around for reference.

A couple of years ago, when I was on a memorization kick, I memorized lots of poems by the British romantics. The only one I memorized by Shelley, who is not my favorite among them, was "Ozymandias."

I can't even remember how it begins. I can remember the general content of the poem, but the order of the words, which I once had in my head, no longer remains.

Kind of like that statue in the desert, I guess.


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.' 

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