“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 shelley, 1818
i first got in touch with this poem when i was listening to the black league‘s album ichor, which contains the poem in form of a song. a very beautiful one which, in my opinion, makes the poem even more affecting, powerful, than it is already in text form. after some oriental tones, the first nine lines of the poem are read out by taneli jarva‘s baritone voice. then, for the two lines quoting the inscription, the music gets hard and heavy, whilst the two lines are screamed. (i’d say that this is one of the best examples where screaming as a singing style fits perfectly.) after that, the music returns to the slow, oriental sounding style from the beginning, and the rest of the poem is spoken. then, music slowly turning to an end, the two lines of the inscription are whispered in the background over and over.