On a Stupendous Leg of Granite, Discovered Standing by Itself in the Deserts of Egypt, with the Inscription Inserted Below
By 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!
Naught but the leg remaining to disclose
The sight of that forgotten Babylon.
We wonder, and some hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when through the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the wolf in chase,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What wonderful, but unrecorded, race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
Sound familiar? That is because, as I learned here, Smith wrote it in a friendly competition with Shelley for an ekphrastic poem on the same work of art. Both were published in 1818 in The Examiner:
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
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.
And something else I learned from that web page, that was probably in the footnotes when I studied the poem in grad school but we were evidently more focused on the language than this fact: Osymandias, Greek name for the Egyptian king Rameses II (1304-1237 BC). Diodorus Siculus, in his Library of History, records the inscription on the pedestal of his statue (at the Ramesseum, on the other side of the Nile river from Luxor) as "King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works."
The end of a quiet family weekend meant a trip to the National Zoo, since the rain ended by late morning and I had finished most of my work (must do the news bullets in the morning as I didn't get back here till well after dinner). Much of the zoo is closed due to construction -- we couldn't even figure out how to get to the bird house, and the bats were not on exhibit -- but we did get to see the pandas, the the elephants and giraffes, the small mammals, the reptiles, the great apes and the savannah animals that were outdoors. We took a friend of my older son's whose father is a professional photographer -- he runs a studio that does graphic design, he's covered NASCAR events and political functions, but I generally don't think about this fact as we barely know the parents. He came to pick up his son while I was downloading the photos I took, and without thinking I said, "Oh, come here, I have a cute photo of our kids!" and he came over and he said, "Oh, that's not bad," and suddenly I remembered what he does for a living...*facepalm* I am horribly embarrassed as he probably thinks I am both a rank amateur and someone who fishes for compliments!
To continue with my literature theme from the poems, I shall post about the last movie I watched: Mary Reilly, starring John Malkovich as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Julia Roberts as his maidservant. I have no idea how I had managed for so long not to see a film directed by Stephen Frears, written by Christopher Hampton and co-starring Glenn Close! I found this one for $6 at Best Buy when I bought Prisoner of Azkaban (yes, the bargain rack is dangerous). Having Close and Malkovich in Mary Reilly, though delightful, was in fact one of the movie's flaws -- it was very difficult not to compare them to their Dangerous Liaisons characters, especially as that was also a stylized period piece and Hyde and the madam have things in common with Valmont and Merteuil. But what I remember most from when the film opened was that Roberts was savaged in reviews, and she was really very good; this is by far my favorite of her roles. Her accent isn't perfect, but Malkovich isn't even trying, and her character is a nice balance of strong and wounded from a horrific childhood. It's interesting to see the story from a working class woman's POV though I am tempted to rename Mary Reilly "Mary Sue" because of her inexplicable attraction to Hyde -- the allure of Jekyll makes total sense. I highly recommend the film to anyone who likes Malkovich, Roberts, Frears or Jekyll and Hyde (Close isn't really in it for all that long -- though Michael Gambon is in it, for HP aficionados trying to see everything he did before). Now I am curious to read the novel upon which the film is based.
Gacked from bonesm, and I can't argue:
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I kept 46 of the photos I took today, a very high number for me, so I shall post animal pictures in batches over the next couple of weeks. Tonight, the giant pandas, because they are so adorable and I am very sorry about the spider upsetting so many people!
...which the staff assured us they do for quite some time each day...
...and one of them was winning but I can't tell the male from the female!
And here is one of the DC artists' pandas, "Under Construction", reflecting the state of the zoo itself!