Gateway to the Classics: Poems Every Child Should Know by Mary E. Burt
Poems Every Child Should Know by  Mary E. Burt

Ozymandias of Egypt

"Ozymandias of Egypt," by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). This sonnet is a rebuke to the insolent pride of kings and empires. It is extremely picturesque. It finds a place here because more elderly scholars of good judgment are pleased with it. I remember an old gray-haired scholar in Chicago who often recited it to his friends merely because it touched his fancy.

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 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.

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