Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Gadhafi, Ozymandias and You

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!“Gadhafi is history” a Libyan official said, when announcing on October 20th, 2011, that Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (commonly known as Moammar Gadhafi) had been killed by Libyan rebels. It is the end of a cruel, violent and utterly repressive dictatorship that started in 1969 with a military coup that was, at the time, welcomed by many.   

Several years ago I wrote about Ozymandias of Egyptone of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s most well-known works. That poem speaks poignantly of how most of what we think of as  impressive in our lives and the lives of others is taken away by time, until finally nothing much remains. It is a reminder to us to touch as many lives as possible in a positive way every day, as our small way to ensure that some part of our spirit remains forever. I don’t think that is a selfish goal–and it will help us stayed focused on what really matters. In Shelley’s poem he describes Ozymandias as having a “…heart that fed.” Ozymandias had a heart that consumed rather than contributed. You and I want to be contributors.

Moammar Gadhafi, so it has been said, often referred to himself as “The King of Kings.”  I think the title was taken already, so that makes it even a bit more presumptious of him! However, during his lifetime there were many who lined the streets when he drove past and shouted his praises as if he deserved them. (A lesson for us there, as well!)

With Gadhafi’s self-given royal title in mind, I was particularly anxious to re-read Shelley’s poem. Take the time to read it, almost as if it is standard text, so you can fully appreciate the message.

 Ozymandias of Egypt
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 shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped 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.

At some point, all of us are history. We have no control over that. But we can control a good part of the present and in so doing make a difference in how we are remembered and how much we will have enriched the lives of our loved ones, friends and even chance acquaintances.

Stop for a moment and listen to the sound of the wind whistling around the fallen statue of Ozymandias. Watch as the sand swirls and shifts from there to the death site of Moammar Gadhafi. Then, do something very, very good with your life today!

October 20th, 2011 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers | 8 comments


  1. I work for Careerist, with L., who reads you all the time and she forwarded this to all of us. What a great post for today. I have to tell you that I don’t usually “get” poetry but THIS I get. Thanks for the reminder.

    Comment by John H. | October 20, 2011

  2. I remember that poem but never would have thought of it, so I’m very glad you did. The use of the term “king of kings’ was especially ironic, wasn’t it? I’ve traveled in that part of the world for twenty years and always feel like a load of bricks on my heart just seeing how life is for most people there, especially women, from about age 12 up. What is really sad is that they have such a skewed idea of what our country is about and how we live. Sometimes they’re right and that makes me even more sad! Today though, I think I’ll go do something good for someone. My best to you!

    Comment by Careerist | October 20, 2011

  3. I had never read that poem and really liked it. It was perfect for your message. Good post, as usual.

    Comment by Rob | October 21, 2011

  4. I wrote my post using the very same poem, your post gives some interesting additional insight.

    Comment by Ted Stockton | October 22, 2011

  5. Wow, Tina, this has some deep thoughts for a lot of things that are going on right now, even in my own little life! It’s all so temporary, isn’t it?

    Comment by Reader | October 22, 2011

  6. Thank you, Dear Tina, for your words. My Christian faith helps keep me aware of the difference between now and eternity. Now is a brief flicker in comparison with the infinite. I think the most grievous sin I could commit would be using this flicker of time in a way that presents my faith as anything less loving and caring than the real King of Kings intended it to be.

    Only one life
    Will soon be past.
    Only what’s done for Christ,
    Will last.

    The late Gadhafi wanted his family, his politics and his faith to predominate, but there was no love in it, only repression, hate and death for those who felt differently. I pray that all who say they are Christians will remember those lessons, as well as the others you mention.

    You know we hold you in our prayers every day. Don

    Comment by Don R. | October 22, 2011

  7. Hello Tina! I hear you’ve been dealing with some pain problems. It’s hard to think of you not being your usual energetic self! I’m glad you’re still writing!

    I also liked the last one on who ought to intervene about employee problems. We don’t have many of those, but when we do, we try to get them out and over real quick. The LT’s motto is, “know about it, do something about it, move on.”

    Get better and come visit us or let us know and we’ll pick you up and bring you down here!

    Comment by P.A.H. | October 22, 2011

  8. Thanks for the revisit to King Oz…….yes, I am from Kansas but I do know the diff….I are a KSU grad, afterall.

    Comment by Ava | November 19, 2011

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