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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: February ::
Re: Ozymandias
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0321  Friday, 26 February 1999.

[1]     From:   D. Maruyama <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 11:23:37 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0312 Re: Ozymandias

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 14:55:43 -0000
        Subj:   RE: Ozymandias


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D. Maruyama <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 11:23:37 EST
Subject: 10.0312 Re: Ozymandias
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0312 Re: Ozymandias

Greetings,

Ozymandias, I believe was the Greek name for Ramses of Egypt.  Shelley
most likely had the model of Egypt in his brain at the time of
composition.  The bulk of the poem is a transcription of a brief
monologue by a "traveler from an antique land."  The traveler is given
no name.

Some observations.  The fact remains that the statue is not intact in
the poem, and the surrounding areas are just sand and more sand.  The
statue can be considered to be a symbol of the temporal nature of
government and governmental power.  Political institutions and exercises
in power are all temporary institutions.  As a ruler, you can obtain
power and build a statue of yourself, but time will unravel and decay
the project you created.  You will  eventually die, and your government
will perish along with you.  As another person takes over, the
government will shift, and you will be forgotten.  The grand symbols of
your authority will be covered by the sands of time.  You will be grand
only to the archaeologist digging up your bones.

Now, it might be interpreted that those fragments, those legs, are
pieces of art that have survived the onslaught of time.  I think the
reading is possible.  On the other hand, the temporal nature of power
reading is a better fit.

Like everything in literature, several other critiques of the poem are
possible.  You can get into Shelley's idealism and personal philosophy
as well.  We can't forget that the French Revolution also played a role
in the Romantic period either.

D. Maruyama

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 14:55:43 -0000
Subject:        RE: Ozymandias

Concerning Ozymandias...

>I don't think anything in the poem suggests that the fallen statue of Ozy
>is great art.

The decayed artwork puts the poet in mind of the vanity of grand human
endeavours, which it wouldn't have done were it not decayed. Its
greatness is its ruination, and this increases the more the statue fails
to stand the test of time. Such romantic nihilism is, thankfully,
finite: once the 'legs' disappear altogether there'll be nothing to
wonder at.

Gabriel Egan
 

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