Sunday, April 10, 2005

I spent a good bit of yesterday at the Sackler Museum looking at likenesses of all sorts of dead folks of antiquity rendered in just about every material available for sculpture. The common link I saw between them all was that not a single one was whole. Everyone was missing something - perhaps a nose, an ear or at least one limb. This came to mind:


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.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

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