Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ozymandias’ Garden

"I met a traveler 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 upon 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."

- Shelley

I’ve been trying for some time, to come up with a suitable name for my backyard slash garden. At first, I thought it might be too pretentious to name my garden, but I blog about it, and that has to be more pretentious, horticulturally speaking, than a tattoo of a Chinese or Japanese symbol on my lower back. I’m cooler than you mere backyard dabblers, MY garden has a name. But that’s just not me. I’m too cool to have to stand on my tiptoes and summon an audience when I’m clever.

I’ve been reluctant to decide on a name without due deliberation, because I don’t want to be stuck with something hip and/or retro po mo, only to wake up one morning and realize that ship of naming convention has sailed. Nor do I want fairy names, Green Man allusions, or other obscure literary references that come to mind like Eden or Smirkwood. Something so uncreative as Cassandra’s Garden just won’t due, unless of course, my name is actually Helen of Troy.

I toyed with oriental, Ottoman or Ten Thousand and One Nights (sic) names. Calling my lopsided trellis a stately pleasure dome tends to oversell the effect. Calling my backyard Scheherazade’s Garden of Earthly Delights doesn’t quite catch the character, as I’ve admitted my garden looks more like a painted whore, than a face to launch 1,001 narrative ships.

For another reason, I didn’t want to face the possibility of having to re-name my garden periodically if it fails to live up to whatever vision du jour possessed me to name it in the first place. For example, today, I kinda like Swamp of The Valley of Death, but I have a feeling that name won’t age well. Global warming is taking my desert farther from anything wet than I like to admit. Swamp is as inappropriate as Esmerelda’s Garden and Tikki Lounge.

But I think I might be on to something, naming my garden after the great King Ozymandias. First of all, like Ozyman, there’s generally a frown on my visage, a wrinkled lip, and sneer - if not of cold command, then of concentration. Furthermore, I'm like him in that we both have hands that mocked us and hearts that fed. Finally, if my garden guests think of King Ozyman, they may assume that regardless of how forlorn or threadbare my yard looks when they visit, there was a time - back in the day - when it was enough to make a mighty garden designer despair. And today's that day.

1 comment:

kate smudges said...

I like the idea of ozymandias' garden. It has a good ring to it - I write this as I'm laughing at your comment about your garden being like a painted whore rather than a face to launch a 1,001 narrative ships. I can't even begin to imagine what I'd call mine ... something with 'of the frozen north' in it. At least you can enjoy your garden year round, while mine sits under a blanket of snow for much of each year. It makes me wonder sometimes, why I spend so much time and energy on something that is so fleeting.

Early- morning musings - I couldn't sleep.