Shelley on ambition


If you’ve been following this blog carefully you will have noticed that I’ve just spent a week in Egypt teaching at Ain Shams University and doing some research on career guidance in Egypt. On my last day my hosts kindly took me out to see some of Egypt’s astonishing monuments.

A visit to the Great Pyramids puts much of the policy and political scrabbling into some kind of perspective. I was reminded of Shelley’s Ozymandias and thought that I would share it with you so that you could join me in my reflections on history, ambition and the meaning of life.

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


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