Saturday, September 08, 2007

Iraq's Ozymandias

After they gained their independence from Britain some in India wanted to remove from sight any reminders of the British rule. So a park was created, just outside Delhi, in which could be placed every statue commemorating a British character. Each city was asked to pull down their statues and to send them to this park where they would be accessible to any who wished to gaze on them. Given some of the Indians had good reason to feel aggrieved at their treatment by the British it was an understandable plan. Fortunately those with a broader sense of history and destiny declined, arguing that these were, for better or worse, part of India's history and the statues would stay where they are. Can you imagine Mumbai without Queen Victoria? It just would not be right. As a result, only a handful of statues ended up at Coronation Park.

In Baghdad there was a very understandable enthusiasm to tear down the statues Saddam had built for himself. While there are numerous other monuments that are symbols of that regime (Crossed Swords being one) the removal of the statues will present a gap in their history. If only as a useful reminder of what not to return to. These couple of statues were torn down and are now tucked away out of sight. In one case badly damaged. No one loved the man, but hopefully there will be a time when people can come and wonder at these as part of their history. Shelly's Ozymandias comes to mind.


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 shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd 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


R.H. said...

Maybe the best poems tell the truth about something.

This is an unusual blog; no messing about, just good writing.

Pickled Eel said...

When I pulled up beside these statues the poem leapt straight to mind - I agree, I think those few lines say more about Saddam or anyone like him who buld memorials to themselves but who are also the root of their own destruciton and the civilizations (used loosely) they have built around themselves.

And thanks for the compliment. Usually the writing is drafted before posting but at the moment things are being written straight to post so I feel it is not quite as well disciplined. But if you enjoy it - splendid.

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