Wednesday, 15 July 2009

A poem to consider

Like many, I learnt this poem by Shelley by rote at school. It was only much later in life that the way it confronts our mortality became clear to me. Its message is almost a Buddhist one - the power and possessions and preoccupations of the material world are insubstantial and transient. We must live in the "Now" - there is nothing else, and attachment to things will only hurt us and cause us pain.


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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