The Ephemeral Nature of Power

The Timeliness of Poetry

Years ago, while vagabonding through Turkey, I stopped in Kusadasi, a city known for good beaches, memorable shopping, carpet browsing, and raki sipping. But my interest to this resort town wasn’t the beaches or the shopping, but its proxity to two ancient sites:  Ephesus and the Temple of Apollo.

Legs of stone
Didyma-Temple of Apollo

Although Ephesus, an extremely well-preserved ruins of an ancient city, is a must-visit, it is the Temple of Apollo that jolted me out of my complacent reflections on visiting ancient ruins. 

The Temple of Apollo, built around eighth century BC, is a massive graveyard of fallen stones on a sandy desert. Rising tall above the debris of massive stones and broken pedestals are Two vast and trunkless legs of stone supporting an equally massive lintel, as if offering an entrance to the sky. Near them on the sand,/Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies.

Seeing the two columns and the shattered visage side by side, the words of

Ozymandias

Percy Bysshe Shelley pelted my brain. Was this the site of his inspiration for “Ozymandias”? It is possible, but my research did not confirm this. Nonetheless, I made posters of these pictures with Shelley’s words between them, as a reminder of the ephemeral nature of man’s sovereignty.

I’ve published on this topic years ago, but considering the egomaniacal mindsets of many of our world leaders today, I am updating this post in the hope of jolting some complacency out of some constituents. Enjoy the poem.

Ozymandias

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 
                                     Percy Bysshe Shelly

 

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