In the (so far nameless) Victorian adventure book I'm writing, my characters have just stumbled across a ruined statue in the Egyptian desert and gone ever so slightly crazy, loudly declaiming the lines of Shelley's famous poem to the empty sands. In order for them to do so, I had to look up the lines, as I only had snippets in my brain. Wikipedia came up with the goods, and then some. It gave me an interesting image of an early rough draft:
It gave me an image of a fair(ish) copy in Shelley's best penmanship:
And THEN, it gave me ANOTHER poem called Ozymandias: *
IN Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.
We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
This one was written by Shelley's friend, Horace Smith. I didn't know this, but apparently they'd challenged each other to write a sonnet inspired by bits of old statues found lying about the place in Egypt (before being shipped to the British Museum).
And what is my point in transcribing Wikipedia articles about things you lot probably all learned at school any way? Well, blame my characters. Without their odd behaviour, brought on by incipient sunstroke, I might have been blogging about something altogether different. Like Throwaway Lines, maybe, where writers are challenged to write about a bit of old rubbish found lying about the place ...
Be we Shelleys or Smiths, writers do love having a go!
* He later changed the title to the less punchy "On A Stupendous Leg of Granite, Discovered Standing by Itself in the Deserts of Egypt, with the Inscription Inserted Below." They may have paid by the word in those days.
Joan's Throwaway Lines story.