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"
I just love this poem, and the vastness of it, the overwhelming image of the great and mighty thrown into dust. I only hope Helen can forgive me because she posted it up not so long ago.
Interestingly enough this poem was written in 1817 in a friendly competition with fellow poet, Horace Smith. (Isn't Wiki useful? - although poem shape was endlessly more interesting from a writing point of view with an analysis of each poem (even if the conclusions were a little pedantic). And although I agree Shelley's Ozymandius is far and away the better poem, I rather like Horace Smith's last few lines -
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He (the hunter) meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
I think it works better at a remove from Ozymandius the statue - not only because Smith's vision compares poorly to Shelley's - but because the two images in Smith's poem are clashing. The green image of London turned to forest sits badly against desolation and desert, so that instead of enhancing the feeling of waste, the reference diminishes it - and yet I still find the possibilities of a wild London rather inspiring and I wonder that Smith didn't forget the whole desert motif and truly move onto the wild green pastures that he hints at :)
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that. There are more wonderful poems up on the Tuesday Poem hub, enjoy!