What’s On My Desk

Eva —  December 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

Sitting on my desk is a frame containing the poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The paper is yellowing a bit, the ink is fading some, and the frame shows scratches from being packed and moved multiple times, job to job and house to house.

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Photo by author.

My high school friend Nick gave this to me as a graduation gift, after we spent a lot of time discussing the poem in one of Ms. Schneider’s classes (was it AP English? Composition? British Literature II? It had to have been AP English, because we discussed later how lucky we were to have been prepared when it turned up on that year’s AP English Exam).

While I had the mechanics of the poem down pat as far as school went, I did not really appreciate the message of “Ozymandias” at the time. I have re-read it often since then, though I don’t need to; it is the only poem I can recite from memory.

I don’t want to be Ozymandias. I am sure that some people who have sat on the other side of my desk and read the poem facing them probably think that I do. I am driven, and I am tenacious, but I am not Ozymandias. I keep this framed poem on my desk, not to inspire me to be ruthless and uncaring, but to remind myself that I am not important in the grand scheme of things; that being prideful gets me nothing in the end; and that when I say that “I have no desire for a legacy” I’m not being nihilistic or falsely modest, but realistic and practical.

In the long arc of time, no one remembered who Ozymandias was; his monuments and city did not last, and all the traveler in the poem was able to find was a shattered statue and sand stretching as far as the eye could see. Ozymandias built his legacy to prove that he was “king of kings.” My drive and tenacity are on behalf of my community, not for myself, and keeping “Ozymandias” on my desk reminds me that it’s not all about me. Thanks, Nick!



Eva Davis is the Director of the Canton Public Library in Canton, Michigan--not Canton, Ohio, or Canton, Massachusetts, or Canton, Mississippi. (It is an easy mistake to make.) Eva honed her supervisory and management skills working in customer service, research, and publishing before heading to graduate school at the University of Michigan School of Information. She became a librarian in 1998. She was an intern and then the teen services librarian at the Plymouth (MI) District Library before moving to the Ann Arbor (MI) District Library, where she was Head of the Youth Department at the Downtown library, Head of Youth Services for the system, Head of Branch Services, and finally Associate Director for Public Services. Eva has held her dream job as the Director of the award-winning Canton Public Library since 2008. She received the Michigan Library Association's Frances H. Pletz Award for Excellence in Teen Services in 2003, and is a graduate of both Leadership Ann Arbor and Leadership Canton, where she learned that she is moderately Affiliative according to MAFF, her color is "Green" on the Four Color Personality Test, and her Myers-Briggs Type is INTJ (although she has worked diligently and consistently on improving her Sensing, so she now leans ISTJ). Follow @CantonLibrary and @EvaDavisCPL on Twitter. (Photo credit: Susan Kennedy)

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