Bill Berkson reads “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley
In this installment, Bill Berkson reads “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Berkson is a poet, art critic, and professor of Liberal Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute. His books of poetry include Serenade, Fugue State, a collection of his 1960s collaborations with Frank O’Hara entitled Hymns of St. Bridget & Other Writings, and Gloria (with etchings by Alex Katz). The Sweet Singer of Modernism & Other Art Writings, a selection of his criticism, appeared from Qua Books in 2004.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, “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.