Recenly, there was a particular piece of music that caught my attention on CBC’s The Signal: Sapokanikan by Joanna Newsom.
The song begins with the lines,
The cause is Ozymandian
The map of Sapokanikan
is sanded and beveled
The land lone and leveled
By some unrecorded and powerful hand.
This made me re-read Shelley’s timeless poem about the ruined statue of Ozymandias in the desert:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look at 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.
And then here is a real-life Ozymandian tale from a few days ago, from China: A 37-meter tall golden statue of Mao erected in the middle of nowhere.
The ending, however, is different: After the statue has been ridiculed on Chinese social media (with many quoting from Shelley’s Ozymandias) the statue was hastily demolished. Wisdom has not yet departed the Middle Kingdom, it seems.