Byron… Shelly… Ozymandias

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley has been part of some controversy since its creation in 1818, believed to be a moral story of the fall of rulers, but also about the inevitable fall of the “illustrious” Lord Byron.

Even David had referred to his father as the illustrious Sir Peter Weyland whom he struggles to acquire approval and is constantly working in his shadow.

In the poem, the passage “frown, / And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,” gives Ozymandias Byron’s features, because the pharaoh Ramesses II on which Ozymandias poem was believed to be written doesn’t bear any such features.

David has of course been created in his father’s image but doesn’t have the restrictions that held Weyland back like humanity, a soul, need for sleep or vulnerability to illness. Which stands to reason why David’s creation would also represent in himself, a survivor, unclouded by judgement or delusions of morality.

Shelley poetically decapitates “Byron’s” head by placing it in the desert, predicting that one day Byron would no longer hold his place amongst the literary greats.

David’s decapitation by the last engineer was a literal visualisation of mankind’s prophecised downfall, with Elizabeth Shaw a stranger from an antique land left to observe the destruction and wasteland of Paradise with David.

Shelley believed his works which were dwarfed by the famed Lord Byron, would be vindicated by time. And in the poem “Ozymandias,” time is what plays the role in the literary monarch losing his crown.

David has appealed to Weyland Yutani through the Advent Transmission, uses his research to vindicate himself. And with this research, I predict it will bring an end to his Hellish reign through his creation of the Perfect Organism.

The decapitated head of Ozymandias “uncannily anticipates the guillotined bodies of the French Revolution” – Young, Robert. 1991. Poems That Read Themselves.

That description interestingly lines up with the design of the Nostromo and Covenant crew patches. Because they are based on the buttons of 18th Century French Revolution uniforms, and as were the crew landing party costumes (heavily referencing the style of Moebius, concept artist for Alien 1979).

Shelley, drawing parallels between his work being like that of the Pharaoh’s sculptor and Byron being Ozymandias. He couldn’t conceive the sculptor surpassing the Pharaoh’s fame, yet time has vindicated Percy Shelley, who no longer plays second fiddle to Lord Byron.

And in time we know David’s creations will outlive and outlast anything that comes in contact with them, the only thing destroying them is razing the colonies established by Weyland Yutani to the ground.

The true identity of “Glirastes” the Pharaoh’s sculptor, is not quite “a household name” in the 21st century.

As much as everyone credits Ridley Scott for Alien, others such as Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett as well as Ron Cobb, Moebius, Walter Hill, David Giler, H.R.Giger and Carlo Rambaldi have given a great amount of contribution to the monolithic A L I E N.

And you may be familiar with the argument which relegated David Giler and Walter Hill to just producers and never being credited for their rewrites of the story.

I have heard it was in the contractual agreement that two characters in the prequels be named after David and Walter, and with that, the Byron Shelly argument has come to an end.

Dan O’Bannon may be the creator of Alien but David is now the creator of the Xenomorph, or is he? The Xenomorph design predates Alien, just as the Xenomorph mural predates David’s creation of it.

Optical perceptors stopped and identified Michelangelo’s statue of David, fashioned from Carrara marble. It-he could see the slight rises and indentations made by the cold chisel. A copy, perhaps, but one infused with real creativity. Not necessarily a contradiction. He walked over to it. “David,” he said. By Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Finished and installed summer, 1504. “We are David.” It-he held out a hand and made contact with the stone. It was cool, dry, unyielding. Not human, yet so very human. “Beautiful and cold.” “Perfect in every way,” Weyland concurred. “David,” he murmured. Voiced aloud in the beautiful, expensive, sterile room, he found the sound of his own name satisfying. It would do. He turned back to the watching Weyland. A meshing of neurons generated curiosity. “Why have you created me?” – Alien: Covenant Novelisation

References

  • Adams, Bernard1996“The Thorvaldsen Bust of Byron.”Keats‐Shelley Review, 10 Spring20519. Print
  • Bainbridge, Simon1999“From Nelson to Childe Harold: The Transformations of the Byronic Image.”Byron Journal, 27: 1325. Print
  • Brewer, William D. 1994The Shelley‐Byron ConversationGainesvilleUP of Florida. Print
  • Brown, James1998“‘Ozymandias’: The Riddle of the Sands.”Keats‐Shelley Review, 12: 5175. Print
  • Budra, Paul2000A Mirror for Magistrates and the de casibus TraditionTorontoU of Toronto P. Print
  • 5 June 2007“Colossal Bust of Ramesses II.”The British Museum5 JuneThe British Museum.
  • Janowitz, Anne1984“Shelley’s Monument to Ozymandias.”Philological Quarterly, 63 Fall47791. Print