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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ozymandias and Ruins in Lord of the Rings

The recent posts about JB Jackson, and Shelley got me thinking about other examples of ruins as both a sign of decay and the potential for rebirth. It is almost cliche to quote Shelley's Ozymandias when talking about ruins, but what can I say - the poem works. Here it is:
"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 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 long level sands stretch far away.'"
One famous story about collapse and redemption, though it is not often thought of as such, is JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The story tells, among other things, of how Mankind was once great but has fallen into decay, and the struggle to return Mankind to glory. Along their journey, the Fellowship sees many signs of this lost glory, usually in the form of ancient ruins. The movie captures some of these images beautifully, interwoven with nature. These stills aren't the best quality, but they still demonstrate the point nicely:

"But long before, in the first days of the North Kingdom, they built a great watch-tower on Weathertop, Amon Sul they called it. It was burned and broken, and nothing remains of it now but a tumbled ring, like a rough crown on the old hill's head. Yet once it was tall and fair. It is told that Elendil stood there watching for the coming of Gil-galad out of the West, in the days of the Last Alliance." (The Fellowship of the Ring, Hougton Mifflin Co, p. 181)

"'Behold Tol Brandir!' said Aragorn, pointing south to the tall peak. 'Upon the left stands Amon Lhaw, and upon the right is Amon Hen, the Hills of Hearing and of Sight. In the days of the grat kings there were high seats upon them, and watch was kept there.'" (p384)
"HE came to a path, the dwindling ruins of a road of long ago. In steep places stairs of stone had been hewn, but now they were cracked and worn, and split by the roots of trees." (p. 387)

1 comment:

  1. In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!