Saturday, July 07, 2007

Saturday Musing: P.B. Shelley, On the Future of America


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!
No thing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

This poem always makes me think of the future. Someday will America, civilization, everything that we know as "ours" could be a Colossal Wreck surrounded by level sands, only remembered by some shattered image of our cold sneer? No? I bet the Egyptians didn't think so either. Nor the Romans, nor did the dinosaurs... If they could wonder, and according to Descartes, they couldn't.

But the point being, we think we are some serious hot stuff but it is always good to remember that the kingdoms of this world are like Ozymandias. Once thought invincible and eternal but now a wreck of decay in the desert sand.

The end times might be 2000 years in the future. Someday America may only be remembered by a work of art from an artist who looked at what we are now, and created something that will someday mock our vanity.


Bill Hensley said...

You are right. Fair warning to all of us.

I once read an article in Smithsonian magazine investigating which human-built structures would survive the longest. The answer: put your money on the pyramids. They will likely still be standing and recognizable structures for tens of thousands of years.

Chaotic Hammer said...

Well, yeah. And America is only a few hundred years old. A newborn infant next to other civilizations. Still crapping our diapers and doing a whole lot of screaming and crying.

A lot of people who study end time prophecies have trouble finding any reference to America there. I don't know if that means anything, but if nothing else, I think it probably means that God is not particularly impressed by us.