How amazing could it have been to be invited to a poetry slam with Mary and Percy Shelley?
The banker and political writer Horace Smith spent the Christmas season of 1817–1818 with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley. At this time, members of Shelley’s literary circle would sometimes challenge each other to write competing sonnets on a common subject…
I guess they had tired of hanging out with Lord Byron and Keats.
…Shelley and Smith both chose a passage from the writings of the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, which described a massive Egyptian statue and quoted its inscription: “King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.” In the poem Diodorus becomes “a traveller from an antique land.”
Listen to Bryan Cranston’s reading of Percy Shelley’s version, and you’ll agree it’s the standout.
Did king Ozymandias know that his inscription would survive beyond all of his great works being destroyed, and tell a great joke down through the ages – and through the hand of Percy Shelley, perform a slight of hand to show the fleeting nature of what seems so vital?
I happened to drive by a monument to the very earth today, layers of sandstone laid down a year at a time as alluvium, compressed into sandstone and heaved high into the mountains inland. If you think about such things too much you’ll see even these monuments to geology and heat and time are a storm in the calm forward plod of endless entropy before our planet is swallowed up by a star bloated on a diet of lithium some billions of years from now.
Mine might not be as good as Shelley’s either, but at least I’m in good company.
I met a traveler from an antique land, who told me once with his heart full of mirth That it doesn't matter if the tree that falls is unheard and unseen, whether its crash and its long life are valued in its time. What matters is the cold sneer of a person the passing from one moment to the next, the value is of priceless nature the recognition in which the children of god contain a voice of the greatest giants and can bear witness He said "You create reality in your perception Do not despair. As time stretches off into the distance, that which came before stands as a monument for all time in that moment, unchanging and fixed on the great wheel."