Literal Translations #3 – “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley


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So… I’ve been fighting with my laptop a lot. And I moved, and went to Salt Lake Comic Con and have been working way too much. And did I mention fighting with my laptop? Let’s ignore that my last post was in July, hmm?
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What a Literal Translation is: A word-for-word translation that swaps words out with literal synonyms
Why a Literal Translation: They help dissect hard-to-understand poems. Most of the time.

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Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shellye, the Original:

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”.
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Lisa’s Literal Translation:

I acquainted a wanderer from an old (and possibly collectible) piece of place
Who spoke: “Double large and supportless lower appendages of rock
Keep upright in the hot lands. Close to them on the dry soil
Partially submerged, a fractured face reclines, whose stern look
And crinkled mouth and glare of fosty leadership
Speak that its creator thoroughly those fires studied
Which still sustain, impressed on these dead stuffs,
The palms and fingers that scoffed them and the blood-pumping organ that ate.
And on the raised spot these bits of speech show:
`My title is Ozymandias, Emperor of Emperors:
Gaze on my doings, you strong, and grieve!’
Not anything near survives. By the remnants
Of that enormous mess, endless and empty,
The single and even dunes reach long afar”.
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I love this poem, a true testament to the meaningless of pride and greatness in the vast span of humanity.
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One thought on “Literal Translations #3 – “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

  1. Pingback: Bad news for everyone | The Drugstore Notebook

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