Literary Poop with Professor Nannerpants – Analysis Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Professor Horatio J. Nannerpants, Professional Simian Literary Professor/Semi-Professional Poop Flinger

Oh, 3.5 readers!  Get thee to Europe to see the glory of what once was.  The statues, the brilliant architecture and of course, the fine cuisine.  It’s all so lovely that it almost breaks my heart when I lose control and throw my poop all over it.

Yes, in this land rife with history, there are all sorts of lessons to be learned about history and culture, stories of monarchs who have come and gone.  And you’ll even find such tales written into various antiquities the world over, even in, say, Egypt.

Have you set a goal for yourself, 3.5 students?  Is it a big project?  Perhaps it’s causing you a great deal of anxiety.  In times such as these, I highly recommend flinging your poop against the wall.  I know it calms me right down, though I presume it creates all sorts of untoward feelings inside the poor individual who must clean up the poop.

Oh well.  That’s not my problem, for I am much, much too important to clean up poop.

Not only is life short and full of poop, but eventually, everything you do or say or even accomplish will, as a basic matter of fact, turn into poop.  Such is the point of Ozymandias, the old poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

“I met a traveler 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.”

Pardon my French, 3.5 students, but that Percy Bysshe Shelley was one morose motherfucker.  To paraphrase the immortal Ben Affleck’s line delivered in that most seminal work, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, it’s as if someone shit in Percy’s breakfast cereal.

But the man has a point.  The poet speaks of Ozymandias, better known as Ramses II, the mightiest of all Egyptian pharaohs.

Ozymandias believed in himself so righteously that he had himself preserved in a giant statue.  The engraving boasts of Ozymandias’ power and warns other mighty kings to “look upon” his works “and despair.”

Despair about what?  All the broken statue pieces and shit littering the dessert sands?

What is Percy getting at?  The fragile nature of life.  Maybe one day you’ll accomplish as much as a great Egyptian pharaoh, but sooner or later, the poop will hit the fan.  You’ll kick the bucket and all the material possessions you acquired will end up broken and rotting underneath the sand, or dirt, depending on where your shit is doing its rotting.

Now, don’t get Percy wrong.  I don’t think he’s coming right out and saying, “Give the eff up.  Smoke a bone and stop trying because we’re all screwed anyway.”

I mean, it’s still pretty awesome that Ozymandias managed to do so many great things that he was eventually preserved in the form of a giant ass statue.  Sure, you can mock him, but it’s not like you ever did anything that led to your immortalization in a statue.

The lesson?  Do try, for there may be awesome rewards.  However, if you fail, don’t beat yourself up too badly about it.  After all, this is all turning to poop sooner or later.

Is there something you’re trying to achieve, 3.5 students?  Do you worry that one day it will all turn to poop?  Fling your poopy thoughts in the comments.

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