May 12, 2008 at 12:07 | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Barrow Ozymandias

Quoth Percy Bysshe 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 mock’d 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.

These trunkless legs stand on the site of the old Barrow Ironworks. Not so very long ago they were part of a sculpture by Colin Telfer (follow the link to find a picture of the original) commemorating the iron miners – known as the Red Men, because the iron ore stained their clothes and skin red – who helped to make Barrow. These included my forebears from that branch of my family who migrated from Cornwall in the middle of the nineteenth century. At some time in the last eighteen months the sculpture was vandalised. Have the local council done anything to make good the damage? Have they hell!



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  1. I can’t help thinking that somewhere there must be another statue of a man who is completely legless! Burton-on-Trent, perhaps?

  2. Clever!
    Now I’ve learned about Shelley and Horace Smith’s account of the same desert statue.

  3. Perfcet poem to go with the test and image. Vandals are fe and far between here. They have there moments, but on the whole the council act swiftly to counter there efforts.

    Love the statute. It’s good to see a towns heritage is immortalized in such a stunning piece.

  4. Ozymandias indeed. This makes an interesting photo, but the story behind it is upsetting. I hope your council acts to prevent this type of vandalism. I’d say the vandals need to get a life, but it looks like they’re already working on a life of crime.

  5. It’s difficult to know what the council can do, nor anybody else for that matter. The word disgraceful is astronomically puny to describe this act especially when you follow the web link to discover just what the original looked like. The council should be berated to put this sculpture in what appears to be open land and consequently constitutes a ‘sitting duck’ to these mindless cretins. Throw in the fact that it is of a fragile material and that makes it doubly worse.

    This is not a defacement of a work of art but a near-complete destruction of something that is irreplaceable.

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