The New Christians

The New Christians

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

It’s National Poetry Month, so here’s my favorite poem, first introduced to me by my Brit Lit teacher, Bud Jensen, during my senior year in high school.  Good words for all of us — emergent, evangelical, Reformed, Democrats, Americans — who think we’re pretty much “it” right now.

by: Percy Bysshe Shelley

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 Ozymandius, 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.

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posted April 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm

And the first thing which came to my mind was Karl Rove and the Tausendjahre Reich the Republicans had planned.

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Dan Hauge

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:40 pm

The first thing that came to my mind was Watchmen :). Great book, decent movie. A potent message in the poem for us all, for sure.

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Mike Croghan

posted April 2, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Heh. I’m with Dan. That poem was introduced to me by Adrian Veidt (that is, Alan Moore).
Great poem; I’m guessing it’s never provoked much thought among the mighty.

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posted April 2, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Bud Jensen! I haven’t thought of him for 13 years! I hope you quote Mr. Beaver next…

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posted April 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Tony is quoting Shelley, not Bud Jensen.

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posted April 2, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Tony, thanks for a reminder of a great poem, and congratulations for your introspective reading of it. You see in it warnings about the hubris of a variety of people groups, including some who are “like you”. Panthera, you would do well to note Tony’s example in this regard.

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posted April 2, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Right, so you support the secret ruling overturning the Bill of Rights, the torture of American citizens, the abrogation habeas corpus.
Tell you what, it is precisely because of people like you that the United States got into this horrible mess. Your arrogant posing is nothing more than an unwillingness to accept that the time for you and all the other christianists who committed such unspeakable evil is past.
In other words, talk to the hand, my dear, talk to the hand.

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Theresa Seeber

posted April 2, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Here is my favorite poem.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
— Robert Frost

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Blair Bertrand

posted April 2, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Very apropos with the Watchmen in theaters at the moment.

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posted April 3, 2009 at 6:11 am

Thank you – Frost is way coool. Pity that both he and Whitman are presented to students at the worst possible time for guys to have any benefit from them.
This is one of my favorite poems in English, from Edna St. Vincent Millay:
When we are old and these rejoicing veins
Are frosty channels to a muted stream, And out of all our burning their remains
No feeblest spark to fire us, even in dream, This be our solace: that it was not said
When we were young and warm and in our prime, Upon our couch we lay as lie the dead, Sleeping away the unreturning time.
O sweet, O heavy-lidded, O my love, When morning strikes her spear upon the land, And we must rise and arm us and reprove
The insolent daylight with a steady hand, Be not discountenanced if the knowing know
We rose from rapture but an hour ago.”
Poetry commands attention and a willingness to accept other perspectives, a reality outside of us.

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Carl Holmes

posted April 3, 2009 at 3:52 pm

I have kept this poem around for years… I am glad it speaks to others. I can barely find it on the internet anymore so I was not sure if it still was popular, or if it was just a piece of literary dust.
Either way the message is potent.

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Ara Eichmann

posted June 4, 2014 at 3:09 am

I delight in, lead to I discovered exactly what I used to be looking for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

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