Percy Bysshe Shelley

(1792-1822 / Horsham / England)

Ozymandias - Poem 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.'

Form: Sonnet


Comments about Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

  • Geoffrey Plowden (12/4/2015 10:10:00 AM)

    Vates.

    What happened to the rest of the statue? I think the only explanation must be that the trunk was never delivered. They got the legs up on the pedestal, the head was damaged by falling off the transport, but the trunk never came, perhaps because they had run out of funds, or it was intercepted by enemies. Any other ideas? (Report) Reply

    5 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • .., Rahman .., Henry .., Rahman .., Henry (9/6/2015 3:22:00 AM)

    Uncommon poem (sonnet) I've ever read. (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (8/11/2015 4:15:00 PM)

    ...fascinating poem with amazing imagery, love this ★ (Report) Reply

  • Sohaib Farooq (5/2/2015 5:38:00 AM)

    It is q very ironic poem which describes the pride of a man and the wretched reality of life. Man becomes proud by success. He thinks that he has toppled the world. He forgets that life is merciless. Time brings all luxuries of life to an end, and death is a great leveller. Shelly considers all feelings of superiority in man as only an illusion and self-deception. (Report) Reply

    Dave Bokchito (8/3/2015 10:16:00 AM)

    Nothing, Mr Farooq?

    Dave Bokchito (5/11/2015 6:25:00 AM)

    Life is not a 'thing' to be tagged as wretched. It is a beautiful process that can be enhanced and uplifted or destroyed. If we base our success on self gratification and power hungry greed, then we doom ourselves and all involved.

    Time brings all luxuries of life - based on uplifting life, to a long and enduring existence. Death can only stop 'a' life. Ideas that are based on uplifting 'lives' grow on and become greater. Oxymandias fell because all he had was his tyranny.

    Consider the difference between Hitler and Ghandi. One had an 'Empire' and one had a 'purpose.' One has a legacy in history we all continue to grow from, even though he is dead. The other one can only offer what we need to avoid, even though he had an empire. One we honor, the other we sneer and hiss at.

    Shelly teaches us far more than a simplistic lesson of what dies. The fact that we know who Shelly was, and would know absolutely nothing of who Ozymandias was, had he not written that poem, screams his point clearly.

  • Oduro Bright Amoh (4/20/2015 6:37:00 PM)

    I have an affinity to sonnets. This one is just so perfectly laid down brick by brick, like a building. Just wonderful! I am always grateful that I can enjoy sweet poetry from people who lived aeons before me. (Report) Reply

  • Bryan Baker (2/21/2015 8:23:00 PM)

    The vanity of human wishes ne'er so well expressed. (Report) Reply

  • Akhtar Jawad Akhtar Jawad (1/17/2015 8:58:00 AM)

    Nice one......................................... (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Nash Kevin Nash (10/29/2014 4:21:00 PM)

    my greatest sonnet if i could learn his rhyme scheme....!! (Report) Reply

  • Sagnik Chakraborty Sagnik Chakraborty (9/10/2014 9:28:00 AM)

    Arguably the greatest sonnet in the English language. It encompasses multiple themes, ranging from the impermanence of earthly power and the futility of despotic ambition to the contrasting timelessness of artistry. The tyrant Rameses II of ancient Egypt, whose moniker was 'Ozymandias', for all the limitless godlike powers he enjoyed in his lifetime, is long dead and with him is gone all his great monuments and statues, withered by the all-consuming Time. A subtle hint is also there that the unnamed sculptor still lives on through his perfect portrayal of Ozymandias's features. The rhyme scheme is difficult but effortlessly executed by the Master Poet. (Report) Reply

  • Grant Charney (6/22/2014 7:54:00 PM)

    Really only heard of this poem when I watched Breaking Bad, but I learned to love this poem so much more than the show. (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (6/22/2014 2:28:00 AM)

    Philosophical I think this is a great poem on the human destiny which lasts for a few years and goes to oblivion and whatever the power and positions may be the destiny awaits us as the ozymandias the mighty king in the poem. Great poet and great poem (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (6/17/2014 9:11:00 PM)

    .........a great message in this write....all creations can fall apart and crumble....but poetry can remain until the end of time..... (Report) Reply

  • Scott Lynch (6/16/2014 1:47:00 AM)

    This poem does have a few layers, that is true..but I believe it is about the sculptor in equal measure as his subject matter, that being the proud and vain King, and his colossal memorial to himself...I love the medium of Time, it heals, it destroys and most of all it humbles..If I was God I wouldn't tolerate my creations boastfulness either, ,3 score and 10, youre all fortunate I wouldn't giveaway nanosecond! (Report) Reply

  • Herbert Guitang Herbert Guitang (4/25/2014 8:29:00 AM)

    Poem with high pride of the world. Masterpiece from a genius master (Report) Reply

  • Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (4/2/2014 10:35:00 AM)

    All things pass everything always changes...he must have seen the ruins in Turkey... (Report) Reply

  • Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (4/2/2014 10:35:00 AM)

    All things pass everything always changes...he must have seen the ruins in Turkey... (Report) Reply

  • Elijah Begin (2/26/2014 11:14:00 AM)

    I like boyz and this poem (Report) Reply

  • Thomas Vaughan Jones Thomas Vaughan Jones (1/15/2014 12:42:00 PM)

    The sonnet is the flagship of formal poetry, and this powerful story brings to us the certainty that nothing lasts forever. Kings and nobles, poets and peasants must all take that final walk into obscurity, pride and poverty must all perish in the march of Time. King David's lament How are the Mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote in his verse TIME. Time.. leads us unerring to the grave, and pays us back in earth and dust carry the same message. Me thinks these poets are trying to tell us something. (Report) Reply

  • Vee Soar (1/1/2014 11:06:00 AM)

    Line eleven has an incredible double meaning. When the statue was whole, this King invited others to see how great he was and to despair that they could never achieve what he had achieved. It takes on a whole new meaning when the statue - and the kingdom - have fallen. See it says how even the great and mighty fall, so despair

    As one poster said, our present leaders could well take a lesson from this, especially the self important tyrants, including those who continue to trash our beautiful planet home for their own greed. (Report) Reply

  • Brandon Beach (9/22/2013 12:27:00 AM)

    I also came here because of Breaking Bad. I like this poem but I think I like The Raven better. Especially
    the reading done on the Simpsons.

    I don't think this poem is about Ozymandias at all. I think this poem is about the sculptor that made the stutue and the mutability of art. Unlike Shelley's friend Keats who sees art as an unchanging cold pastoral (see Ode to a Grecian Urn) , Shelley sees art and it's meaning as something that changes even after it leaves the artists hand. When the sculptor made this statue he was attempting to create a statue that evoked fear, awe and wonder. Now many years later this statue has a completely different meaning that the artist did not intend or even contemplate.

    Yet, though changing art is still imortal. Though time breaks down, decays, and changes the meaning of the statue, it survives. It goes from statue, to a story told to a traveler and then to Shelley's poem living on long after the desert turns the statue to dust. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: despair, heart, passion, work



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002



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