Commanding poems that continue to be talked about and analyzed to this day. Each sonnet was published by Leigh Hunt early in 1818 in consecutive issues of his monthly Journal, The Examiner (Rumens, 2010). Even though the sonnet written by Smith has taken a back seat to Shelley in scholarly study, both poems explore the opulence of ancient history and the inevitable consequences of time. Inspired by recent discoveries in the Near East, Shelley and Smith were motivated by the words of historian Odorous Sculls who claimed the inscription on the statue of Renames II read, “King of Kings Commanding am l.
If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work” (Mimics, 2010). The motivation for these separatist poems was to create a piece of artwork that would withstand the inevitable passing of time. Unlike the crumbling boasting monuments of Ancient Egypt whose intent was to memorial their rule, their own literary words would be a piece of poetic art that would forever be remembered in European literature. While the differences outweigh the similarities between these woo poems, there is a uniting theme expressed by both Shelley and Smith.
Each author uses the same subject, tells the same story and makes the same moral point of the arrogance of human authority and the inevitable decline of all leaders. Every great leader wants to be amortized and remembered. Time is the ceaseless enemy of this great wish of mortal men. It never stops, takes pause or shows tire as it breaks down the most triumphant of mortal monuments. Both poems use the expression of time to unite the idea that all power is fleeting as exampled by the only mains of the statue’s leg.
The variations in diction between Shelley and Smith allows for a vast difference of perspective. Smith, an author of historical novels and financial advisor to Shelley, lacked an overall flare that is seen in Shelley poem. However, his words reinforce the sense of loss and emptiness of the desert and that forgotten Babylon’ (Smith, 1818). Smith chooses a future perspective of someone stopping upon the ruins and wondering what greatness once resided in the Egyptian desert. His words are less imaginative and the tone of the poem comes across more loom than wrathful as compared to Shelley.
There is no focus on the arrogance and harsh rule of Commanding. On the other hand, Shelley chooses to present the remains of Commanding from the narrator’s perspective. The passage, “Tell that its sculptor well those passions read”, shows that the unrelenting style of rule, as depicted on the visage, was accurately portrayed to the traveler (Shelley, 1818). Shelley is able to strip focus away from Commanding’ own aspiration of being amortized and draw attention to the truth of his unsympathetic reign as depicted wrought the hands of the artisan.
Shelley literary style and viewpoint makes clear his disdain for ancient rule and monarchies (Solo Interactive Learning). Shelley and Smith were both inspired by the political developments of their own day and opinions were heightened by the 1821 acquisition of a statue of Rammers II by the British Museum in London. In their own personal style, each poet conveyed the same paradox: “Commanding, the self-proclaimed King of Kings, commissioned a statue of himself to guarantee his immortality, but all that’s left is a broken statue” (Durbin, 012).
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