As I did tourist stuff in foreign lands
like stand on Giza taking polaroids
of camels; motor to Thermopylae
by autokinito so I could see
the place where, in 300, Leonoids
did beardly kill a man with crab-claw hands;
explore; find the Nile’s source; and so on,
I found myself in an expanse of sand,
a great inverted bowl of bronze its ceiling.
I can’t deny I got a funny feeling
when I unearthed this giant marble hand.
It had a plaque, which, rather like a koan,
forced one to re-evaluate the world.
“My name is Ozymandias,” it read –
and there was more along those lines – but here’s
the rub. ‘Twas not a visage wrapped in sneers
and trunkless legs, like Shelley’s; nor, as said
Horace Smith, a single Leg; but curled
fingers and a hand. Thirty fingers.
Plus we’ve seen at least three legs, from Smith
and Shelley totaled. What monster out of myth,
what spider god, what limb-discarding dread
was Ozymandias? … and is he dead?