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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Ozymandias
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0326  Monday 1 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Matthew C. Hansen <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Feb 1999 08:55:07 -0600
        Subj:   Re: Ozymandias


[2]     From:   C. David Frankel <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Feb 1999 12:52:13 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.0321 Re: Ozymandias

[3]     From:   Skip Nicholson <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Feb 1999 17:44:06 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.0321 Re: Ozymandias


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew C. Hansen <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Feb 1999 08:55:07 -0600
Subject:        Re: Ozymandias

Surely the significance here is a sense of the permanence of art. Even
if it does crumble, there is far more of the artist's impression of the
King's cold sneer than any other form of monument.

Moreover, the art that survives the best and the longest are the words.
The inscription from the statue's base remains fully intact and of
course the meta-words of the poem itself are arguably the most
permanent.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Feb 1999 12:52:13 -0500
Subject: 10.0321 Re: Ozymandias
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.0321 Re: Ozymandias

Gabriel Egan said in reply to something I said:

>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.

I have no substantive quibble with Gabriel's summation of the poem, and
if the word "art" includes any statue, then no quarrel with that
either.  The original posting, as I remember it, however, suggested that
the ruminations about the vanity of human endeavours resulted from
seeing "great" art in ruins, and I don't think the poem suggests that
the un-decayed statue of Ozymandias was great art.  The decayed statue
rots away, a monument, not, as Gabriel points out, to the vanity of
grand human endeavors, but to the great vanity of conquers who feel
their endeavours are immortal.  I doubt that "the poet" felt all human
endeavors fall within the particular kind of endeavor that occupied Ozy.

cdf

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Skip Nicholson <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Feb 1999 17:44:06 -0800
Subject: 10.0321 Re: Ozymandias
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.0321 Re: Ozymandias

Regarding the Ozzy comments:

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.

and

....once the 'legs' disappear altogether there'll be nothing to wonder
at.

But can we also say that:

"You will be grand only to the archaeologist digging up your bones" and
to the millions who marvel at Shelley's sonnet...  and "there'll be
nothing to wonder at" except Shelley's sonnet....

Since "Ozymandias" is still required reading of most high school
students, is Shelley enjoying the irony that he has made Ramses (at
least for a time) immortal?

Another English poet, of course, remarked that:

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear'd with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lover's eyes.

Cheers,
Skip Nicholson
South Pasadena (CA) HS

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