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Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822)

Shelley's sonnet is a swipe at tyranny - beautifully done. All that remains of the tyrant, Ozymandias, is his cruel sneer.

Compare this with his friend, Horace Smith's sonnet using the same conceit. Click here. Smith's poem is not an attack on tyranny. His Ozymandias is the builder of a great city. Rather he queries our own boastfulness (using his own city of London).

I admire both poems.


Ozymandias of Egypt

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.