Ozymandias – the king of kings

King of Kings
King of Kings (photo by Charlie Phillips)

The frequency of postings having gone down a bit, the readers may be wondering what I am up to. I am preparing for the first anniversary of this blog.

Today I want to share with you a second poem that has persisted in my memory since school days – the first one having been Twenty Froggies. The name is Ozymandias and was written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in a competition with Horace Smith. The poem is below:

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 lips, 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.”

The competing entry was (and this one is also nice, but presents a slightly different field of view):

In Egypt’s sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desart knows: —
“I am great OZYMANDIAS,” saith the stone,
“The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
“The wonders of my hand.” — The City’s gone, —
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder, — and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro’ the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

The message the both convey is simple: Time is bigger than any and all of us. For the believers, it also means that God mocks your pride.

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Twenty froggies

Talking about life two five year olds through a poem on frogs.

I remember this poem we had to memorise in second standard. Not the full poem but the gist of it. Here it goes:

Twenty froggies went to school, down beside a rushy pool,
Twenty little coats of green, twenty vests all white and clean.
“We must be in time”, said they; “First we study, then we play;
That is how we keep the rule, when we froggies go to school.”

Master Froggy, grave and stern, called the classes in their turn,
Taught them how to nobly strive; likewise how to leap and dive;
From his seat upon a log, showed them how to say “Kerchog!”
Also how to dodge a blow from the sticks which bad boys throw.

Twenty froggies grew up fast, big frogs they became at last;
Not one dunce among the lot; not one lesson they forgot;
Polished to a high degree, as each froggy ought to be,
Now they sit on other logs, teaching other little frogs.

Although I still have the book, instead of typing I have copied it from here, and its attributed to a compilation by H.R. Pattengill.

The poem tears past the years of dust that has settled on the memories. Why it does that I cant say. It does provide an interesting way to convey life to five year olds with amazing clarity. If life can be explained through a poem on frogs in this way, then it cannot be as complex as we consider it as grown-ups.

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When I left GNPS

I was a student of Guru Nanak Public School, Chandigarh from class III to X. I have a lot of fond memories of the school, and want to visit it again some day. I found and visited the website of the school today (it did not have one those days, of course) and was glad to know that few of the teachers – Mrs. T. Gill, Mrs. Satnam, Mrs. Veena (Music), Mrs. Daljit (Religious studies) are still with the school. The then Principal, Mr. Romesh Puri is not with the school, but the supervisor Mrs. Aparajita still is. The English and Maths teachers respectively – Mrs. Lehri and Mr. Barun are not listed. I could not find anyone known to me in the alumni list – in fact there seemed to be no one from our batch. Our batch just seems to have vanished into thin air – they are not even on Orkut!

When I was leaving the school, this is what the English teacher wrote in my autograph book:

Dearest Hardeep,

Life is like a garden – full of flowers and thorns – tread carefully and you’ll have the best of Nature and God’s creations. Be like the flower that gives out fragrance to everyone, pleases everyone with its beauty and leaves its mark on every heart. May God be with you in all spheres of life.

With all my love and blessings
Mari Lehri
15th May, 93

Nice – isnt it? I am trying hard, Ma’am 🙂 Have I lived life this way so far? That’s hard to decide – may be not.

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