Will Western Civilization Pass Into History?

ramessesii.jpgLet us never take our freedoms for granted, nor assume that Western Civilization will forever survive competing cultures and forces, both within and without, who would destroy it.  The poem below is one I read in college; it is by Percy Blythe Shelley, who wrote it in 1817.

Wikipedia describes it this way: 

The central theme of Ozymandias is mankind’s hubris. In fourteen short lines, Shelley condenses the history of not only Ozymandias’ rise, peak, and fall, but also that of an entire civilization. Without directly stating it, Shelley shows that all works of humankind – including power structures and governments -eventually must pass into history, no matter how permanent they may seem at the apex of their influence. Ozymandias’ short-sighted pride seems amusing at first – until the reader realizes that the lessons conveyed are equally applicable today.   


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.


One response to “Will Western Civilization Pass Into History?

  1. Ah, Gary, you’ve posted one of my favorite poems of all time–that one, along with Matthew Arnold’s
    “Dover Beach”. I’m reading Gibbons’ DECLINE & FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE right now and the parallels one can draw to the “American empire” are striking and highly unsettling. Thanks for this…

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