Friday, June 28, 2013

The other Ozymandias

I was not aware that Percy Shelly wrote the famous Ozymandius in a sonnet  competition with his friend Horace Smith (hat tip Social Evolution Forum).

Here is Horace's:

Horace Smith

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 fragment huge, and stops to guess
      What powerful but unrecorded race
      Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

Rather directly collapsing point don't you think?
And here is Shelley's better known piece (I got both from Wikipedia):
Percy Shelly
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. 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.


Linda said...

That's the kind of things us English majors know. I think Shelley wrote the superior poem. What do you think of the two?

russell1200 said...

Linda: Smith's is more a whimsical thought, where as Shelly captures the Hubris of the mighty to a "T". That Smith's poem doesn't stand up to one of the all time great short message poems is not a huge knock on it.