Rome was a remarkable blend of the old and the new. On one hand, it's the fashion capital of the world and the streets were speckled with hype young Romans and exuberant tourists. On the other hand, ancient ruins were strewn all around and I couldn't help feeling a sense of loss thinking about the glory days of the ancient roman empire (not that I would want to be part of that era) and its subsequent downfall. Percy Shelly's beautiful and haunting poem "Ozymandias" echoed in my head. It's part wistful and nostalgic and part ironic. Still one of my favorite poems after all these years..... I think originally Ozymandias may have been written with Egypt in mind since it refers to "a traveller from an antique land" and alludes to a desert.
"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."