On the side of the main road that passes Menerbes there’s a neolithic burial chamber. No one would even know it was there unless they were looking for it. It’s below ground level. We drove past twice before we saw the sign. If you’re game to stand on the road and play dodge the trucks you can see it. The roof of the dolman is a huge flat rock about two metres square that is supported by walls of uneven stones. I had to bend slightly to go inside. It’s dim and smells of damp earth.
Most days we see the ruins of castles, cathedrals and fortresses. Grand edifices that were once believed to be impregnable, unassailable, indestructible. They’re sad testaments to the immortality of the lords and saints they honoured.
It’s hard to express how seeing these ruins makes me feel. But that’s what great writing does. It puts into words the things we don’t have the words for.
That’s why I’m passing you over to the words of the great poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. He says it so much better than I ever could.
I met a Traveler from an antique land,
Who said, “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the dessert. 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!
No thing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.