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Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley


"Ozymandias" is a poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The title of the poem comes from a part of Ramesses' throne name in Greek. This poem is, essentially, a paraphrasing of the inscription on a statue from Diodorus Siculus's "Bibliotheca historica" that says "King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would kow how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works." This poem was written around the same time as Horace Smith's sonnet of the same name.

Ozymandias is a sonnet with the rhyme scheme ABABA-CDCEDEFEF and is written in iambic-pentameter. Due to the poems strange rhyme scheme (5-9), it is not categorized into the usual Italian (8-6) or Shakespearean Sonnet (4-4-4-2) categories.



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.

Published in 1818 in The Examiner.

Next: To Night
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Literary Movement
Romanticism, 18th Century


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