Archives for posts with tag: ozymandias

The One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library in Manhattan met on November 14 to discuss Poetry and Power.

Abigail read “Power” by Audre Lorde, an account of the killing of a ten year-old by a policeman who was acquitted “by eleven white men who said they were satisfied/justice had been done/and one Black Woman who said/‘They convinced me.’”

Roger read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” with its beautiful evocation of the futility of power: “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;/Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!/Nothing beside remains.”

Hazel read “The Tempest” by James T. Fields which begins with the description of a storm, the power of nature, “’Tis a fearful thing in winter/To be shattered by the blast,/And to hear the rattling trumpet/Thunder, ‘Cut away the mast!,’” and then explores other kinds of power.

Gail read Gabriel Preil’s “The Power of a Question” describing the conversation between two old men, “Even a drop of Mozart/does not sweeten/the aridity of the hour./You are a squirrel in confrontation/with an uncracked nut,” which comes to life through the power of time.

Elizabeth read “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman and we were reminded of the power of the individuals in this country who make up the whole, “Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,/The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,/Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.”

Christiana read Sir John Collings Squire’s “Ballade of the Poetic Life,” “Princess, inscribe beneath my name/‘He never begged, he never sighed,/He took his medicine as it came’—/For this the poets lived— and died.”

Ken read “The Power of Words” by Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L.E.L.), “Anger and fear are in them; grief and joy/Are on their sound; yet slight, impalpable:—/A word is but a breath of passing air.”

Terry read “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou, in which the poet celebrates the power of believing in herself, “I walk into a room/Just as cool as you please,/And to a man,/The fellows stand or/Fall on their knees./Then they swarm around me,/A hive of honey bees.”

AnnaLee read “Fall 1961” by Robert Lowell, “All autumn, the chafe and jar/of nuclear war;/we have talked our extinction to death.” Yet he finds relief from this dire situation in nature.

Linda could not attend the circle, but brought “The Return of Lucifer” by Louis Ginsberg, father of Allen Ginsberg and Linda’s former high school teacher. In this poem Lucifer looks at his projects on the earth, “‘I’ll stay,’ he chuckled, ‘things are going well;/For, under Heaven, Earth’s a better Hell.’”

Look for our next post about the upcoming program for December. And, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

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OldNewTabletsThe One Page Poetry Circle will gather to discuss Poetry and Antiquity and Modernity on December 10.

Charles Baudelaire is said to have coined the term “modernity” (modernité) to signify the impermanence of our urban life, and the responsibility of art to represent it. Every generation receives inspiration from the classics. And what’s old is new again! Heroes are re-imagined by subsequent time periods so that many poetic depictions exist of Achilles, Odysseus, Medea, and others, while the Kennedy years are likened to Camelot and T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock states, “I am not Prince Hamlet.”

In his beautiful sonnet, “Ozymandias,” (Greek for Ramses), Percy Bysshe Shelley tells the story of finding a monolith of the great Pharaoh of ancient 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 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.”

For an even more contemporary take, the poet Morris Bishop replaces the last three lines with this playful twist:

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!’
Also the names of Emory P. Gray,
Mr. and Mrs. Dukes, and Oscar Baer
of 17 West 4th Street, Oyster Bay.”

What do you have to say about Poetry and Modernity, or anything else about poetry?