A sonnet for thursday and some thoughts on humility

The 'Younger Memnon' statue of Ramesses II in the British Museum thought to have inspired the poem.

The ‘Younger Memnon’ statue of Ramesses II in the British Museum thought to have inspired the poem “Ozymandias”.


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.

–Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ah yes, Shelley’s poem about how the mighty inevitably fall is pretty great. It is another poem that caught my fancy at a relatively young age (see yesterday’s post about Robert Service). At the time I didn’t think it had anything in particular to say to me, but it does. It’s about pride.

I have always agreed with J.M. Barrie who wrote, “Life is a long lesson in humility.” It is my mantra. It is a hard lesson, indeed, but you can’t be really happy until you learn it. Part of growing up is realizing that you are not as great as your mother told you you were. It goes hand in hand with the lesson about accomplishing a lot if you don’t worry about who gets the credit. These are lessons you have to learn yourself. The hard way.

Here is the best advice–from Jesus (of course):

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)

I always used to worry about whether I would be sitting at the right table with the cool people etc. When I stopped obsessing about that and just sat at any “table” with whomever or even at an empty table, it always worked out.

People always show up and it is okay even if they don’t.