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."
This poem is in the public domain.
About this Poem
Percy Shelley wrote competing sonnets with his friend, Horace Smith, both called "Ozymandias." But Smith later changed his title to "On A Stupendous Leg of Granite, Discovered Standing by Itself in the Deserts of Egypt, with the Inscription Inserted Below," which begins, redundantly: "In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone, / Stands a gigantic Leg..." Shelley's poem remains the obvious winner of said competition.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose literary career was marked with controversy due to his views on religion, atheism, socialism, and free love, is known as a talented lyrical poet and one of the major figures of English romanticism.
Date Published: 1818-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/ozymandias