Friday, February 08, 2008


This is something I have been wanting to put up for a while.

I first encountered Ozymandias in the British Museum, standing before the statue of Ramesses II, who is also known by his Greek name Ozymandias.

The poem was a part of the recorded commentary on the statue (which is supposed to have inspired the poet - the wikipedia article linked above carries a picture) but with the hustle and bustle of the museum (it attracts visitor in numbers that are beyond wildest dreams of the Sri Lankan tourist industry) it made only a partial impact.

Some years later there was a reference to it in The Economist and I looked it up - only then did I realise its beauty and here it is, in all its glory:


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 shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd 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.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley- , 1818

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