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By 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.”


Source: Shelley’s Poetry and Prose (1977)

Poet Bio

Born into a wealthy family in Sussex, England, Percy Bysshe Shelley was expelled from Oxford for writing The Necessity of Atheism. His radical lifestyle at times detracted from the appreciation of his work. He called poets “the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” In Shelley’s short life — he drowned while sailing at age 29 — he produced gorgeous lyrical poetry quintessential of the Romantic Era. He is perhaps best remembered for the mythical poem Prometheus Unbound and for Adonais, an elegy to his friend John Keats.

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