Image: A quartzite
colossus, possibly of Ramses II, has been discovered at the ancient Heliopolis
archaeological site in Cairo. (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Archaeologists in Cairo have discovered an ancient statue, believed
to depict Ramses II, submerged in mud.
What’s bookish about this story? Well, blogger
Camila Domonoske couldn’t
help but note, “The discovery of a forgotten, submerged statue of Ramses II
brings to mind one of the most famous poems in English literature – albeit
substituting muck for desert sands.”
Yup, Ramses II was also known as Ozymandias, a name you may
know from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s famous sonnet:
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.
Although barely out of adolescence…[Shelley] was, in 1813, an ardent radical and anti-monarchist. Physically, he was rather odd, tall and slim to the point of limpness, with a high-pitched effete voice; but what he lacked in physical bulk he more than made up for in charismatic intensity. Among the earliest witnesses to this intensity were his school fellows at Eton, where he was sent by his landowning father when he was twelve. Initially he was bullied for his refusal to ‘fag’ for older boys, but the bullies soon discovered that in spite of his feeble frame, Shelley was not a boy to succumb quietly to taunts. On the contrary, he could be terrifying when roused, and was quite capable of reciprocal acts of violence. He stabbed one tormentor’s hand with a fork, and others remembered him as an almost unearthly creature, with flashing eyes, wild hair, and deathly white cheeks.
“Love’s Philosophy” by Percy Bysshe Shelley (b. 4 August 1792)
The fountains mingle with the river, And the rivers with the ocean; The winds of heaven mix forever With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine In another’s being mingle– Why not I with thine?
See, the mountains kiss high heaven, And the waves clasp one another; No sister flower could be forgiven If it disdained its brother; And the sunlight clasps the earth, And the moonbeams kiss the sea;– What are all these kissings worth, If thou kiss not me?
The Romantic Poets as people at my apartment complex
Blake: The old guy on the first floor who covers all his windows with newspaper and paints all his terra cotta pots bright red. He’s never spoken to me or anyone else, to my knowledge, but he’s been there longer than anyone. On a different level entirely.
Wordsworth: The next door neighbor with the most beautiful patio in the complex. He’s got all kinds of beautiful plants that are healthy, no matter how much everyone else’s are dying. Very chill, but don’t cross him. Has been here forever and has been known to get salty with the management when a repair takes too long.
Coleridge: That one guy a couple years back who we all thought had died because his mail was piling up outside his door, but as it turned out, he was really just asleep for two whole days (?????) and felt really bad for making everyone worry. Wherever he is, I hope he’s alive.
Byron: That young professional guy who broadly hinted that he had had sex on top of one of the washing machines in the laundry area, but wouldn’t say which one. (He may or may not have been messing with me.) Never seemed to work, but dressed really well and took Ubers everywhere. Actually pretty funny, but I wouldn’t want to go on a trip with him or anything. Sat on the balcony smoking a hookah.
Shelley: The friendly, yet constantly disheveled upstairs neighbor who worked for a local nonprofit and was always playing records at weird hours of the night. Walked very loudly and sang in the shower. Every night at approximately eight o’clock he’d laugh a singular laugh at something (”HA!”) and then he’d go to bed. He was pretty cool, just odd. Down for Nazi-punching.
Keats: That male nurse on the far side of the complex who snuck in a cat a couple years ago and probably has like a squillion of them now. Has one plant that is struggling for survival, but he’s doing his best with it. Always seems nice, but is low key intimidating. Has names for all the raccoons who forage in the dumpsters, and can be seen checking out the furniture that people discard.
Percy Shelley’s father, trudging out onto the grounds in the middle of the night: It’s three in the morning and I swear to God if my son is out there doing something weird I’m sending his punk ass to boarding school.