"Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822), published 1819|
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said:Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that this 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.
A well-known scholar and editor of Shelley adds this as a foonote to the poem:
"Ozymandias (the Greek name for Ramses II, 1304-1237 B.C.) was the pharoah of Egypt with whom Moses contended during the Exodus. Shelley's sonnet was written--probably late in 1817--in a contest with his friend Horace (Horatio) Smith. Shelley's sonnet was published in Leigh Hunt's Examiner for January 11, 1818, and Smith's sonnet, also titled 'Ozymandias' at first, but later reprinted as 'On a Stupendous Leg of Granite, Discovered Standing by Itself in the Deserts of Egypt, with the Inscription Inserted Below,' appeared in the Examiner for February 1, 1818. Discrepencies between Shelley's and Smith's poems make it clear that they were responding independently to a conversation about the scene and not relying on a single written description." (Shelley's Poetry and Prose, ed. Donald H. Reiman and Sharon B. Powers. Norton: New York, 1977, p. 103).