|"Ozymandias" is a famous sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, published in 1818. It is frequently anthologised and is probably Shelley's most famous short poem.
It deals with a number of great themes, such as the arrogance and transience of power, the permanence of real art and emotional truth, and the relationship between artist and subject. It explores these themes with some striking imagery, amplified by a setting–Egypt and the Sahara desert–that was exotic for European audiences in the early 19th century. The poem's sense of distance is further enhanced by its second-hand narration; the commentator is relating to us the words of an unnamed "traveller from an antique land".— Excerpted from Ozymandias on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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 shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd 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.
Authoritative external sources
- 1875 Golden Treasury version @ Bartleby: original spelling (identical to above wikisource)
- 1914 Harvard Classics version @ Bartleby: adds cap to "Mighty", changes some commas.
- 1914 Oxford version @ Gutenberg: "modernized" as explained in preface (-'d replaced with -ed), adds cap to "Mighty", "modernized" punctuation.