Sunday, November 11, 2007
Central Park's Ozymandias
This is a statue on Central Park's Literary Walk erected in 1877 in honor of the poet and essayist Fitz-Greene Halleck. From the historical plaque:
"The statue was dedicated on May 15, 1877. The ceremony was attended by President Rutherford B. Hayes (1822–1893), as well as his entire cabinet. The throng of spectators, estimated at 10,000, was so great on that day, and the damage to the surrounding turf so widespread, that park officials were said to have subsequently outlawed assemblies of such great size."
The president, and his cabinet, and 10,000 unruly people! And today no one has any idea who this man is. Reminded me of the Shelley poem "Ozymandias," though not quite as desolate!:
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
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."
Aside from poor Fitz-Greene, I had heard of some of these other guys on the Walk (from top: Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Schiller):