Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pompey's Head - Ozymandias - The Great Sand Hospital

At the hospital (great source for me lately) I found an old Doubleday copy of "The View from Pompey's Head." (Hamilton Basso)

This is a book from the early 50's which made a decent splash at the time. It's largely forgotten now. Covered up in sand. Like stone or bone. Like my bones. Grrrrr.

(for a Goodlaugh take a look at the Goodreads listing for Pompey's Head)

O, well,.... Anyways, i read the editor's note. It quotes the New York Times reviewing it (TVFPH)

Many readers have been waiting for many moons for a major Southern novel about comparatively normal, comparatively decent Southerners (is Blake Butler a decent Southerner? - my note within note). They don't have to wait any longer. "The View from Pompey's Head" is a work of brilliant craftmanship. It is also a penetrating and fascinating study of the wheels within wheels of Southern social life. And as a narrative about likable and interesting people it is absorbing.

This is a book of such controlled art and quiet distinction that it should win wide acclaim. And its human warmth and charm should make it enormously popular."

I'm not sure how enormously popular this book ever was. How high Pompey's Head towered over the plains and mountains and valleys of our culture. Blah, blah, blah. but i felt, there in the hospital, holding the book, and not daring to read it, the hot-sand winds, blah, blah,...

and into my puny mind came again that famous canon-sure sonnet of Shelley


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 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 lone and level sands stretch far away.

No comments: