‘Ozymandias’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley


Percy Bysshe Shelley

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
Joseph Severn’s 1845 portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was a Romantic poet. Considered a radical during his time, his work was heavily unappreciated during his lifetime but grew to influence major poetic (W.B. Yeats, Thomas Hardy) and political figures (Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi) in the decades following his death.