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Posts Tagged ‘Shelley’

“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley in A Defense of Poetry in 1821. A radical, Romantic humanist, Shelley passionately believed that artists of all stripes could inspire the masses to rise up against oppression. When the Chinese government seized artist Ai WeiWei, they acknowledged the power of Ai’s art to “legislate” in a way they seemingly no longer could in the face of the oncoming Jasmine Revolution. The fate of Ai, and that of the Chinese people, now hangs in the balance.” (The Big Think)

– photo of Tate Modern’s fab “Release Ai Weiwei” message (by @robbiesharp) ;

– most of what we do and think and feel is not under our conscious control according to neuroscientists (The Telegraph) ;

– but this picture provides a clue on how to be happy (The Big Picture) ;

– for this six-year old it was becoming Director of Fun at a railway museum (Letter of Note) ;

– for the rest of us it is friends and exercise :

All three researchers concluded that one of the biggest factors in both a happy life and a long life was having strong and healthy social connections. (The Atlantic)

So work out this weekend and then catch up with your friends.

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By complete coincidence I got to number 20 of A History of the World in 100 Objects – the British Museum’s statue of Ramesses II – as protests erupted in Egypt (incredible eyewitness photo).

The giant statue inspired poet Percy Bysshe Shelley to create Ozymandias in 1818 – but it seems startlingly relevant to current events.

He knew what had happened to Egypt after Ramesses – with the crown passing to Libyans and Nubians, Persians and Macedonians, and Ramesses’ statue itself squabbled over by European intruders.  Shelley’s poem ‘Ozymandias’ is a meditation not on imperial grandeur, but on the transience of earthly power, and in it Ramesses’ statue becomes a symbol of the futility of all human achievement.

Ozymandias

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.

 

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