Ozymandias

by PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY (1792-1822)

I met a traveller 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 on 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.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Shelley’s “Ozymandias” was written in a friendly contest with Horace Smith, who gave his poem the same title. Both poems were published in The Examiner, Shelley’s on Jan 11, 1818 under the pen name Glirastes. A few weeks later, on Feb 1, 1818, Smith’s poem was published under the initials H.S. on 1 February 1818. He later renamed his poem

Percy Bysshe Shelley Contemporaries
John Clare
William Cullen Bryant
John Keats
Samuel Lover

See Horace Smith’s poem on page 2

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