Posts Tagged ‘Tennyson’

Archaeology: A New WindI was going through some old books that I hadn’t looked over in some time and came across a thin paperback I had bought when I was in the third grade.  It was a Scholastic Book and the mere sight of it brought back memories of those days when the boxes of books we had ordered weeks before were delivered to the classroom.  There was a mix of excitement and anticipation until the teacher, white-haired Mrs. Rogers in this case, would finally open the box and hand out books to those who had ordered.  The smell and feel of the new books as they were came into my hands is as vivid now as it was so many years ago.

This was a book of poetry selections and across the cover was a photo of a group of British soldiers of an earlier times, astride horses in a desert setting.  It was depicting the doomed soldiers of Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade, one of the included verses.  Inside, going past my crude scrawled signature on the title page, there were poems from Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Langston Hughes, Poe and others.  Looking at it now made me realize what a great influence this slim volume printed on rough paper had on my youth.

Turning the pages I came across a poem that still remains a favorite and whose theme has always resonated in my work, particularly in my Archaeology series.  It deals with time and the ephemeral nature of our existence,  how we cannot control our place in the future despite all the wealth and fame we may acquire now.  This sonnet from Percy Shelley still has legs today…

 Ozymandias of Egypt 

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 shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d 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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