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.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
'Ozymandias' is a beautiful sonnet written by Shelley which most of us must have read in our English syllabus. Shelley is a well known poet among romantics as they frequently borrow lines from his poems to impress their loved ones.
'Ozymandias' is like looking through the crystal ball that not only shows us the past and the present but also hints at the future. It tells us about the poet meeting a traveler who narrates the story of the king Ozymandias. Ozymandias, the king of kings who ruled powerful dynasties now lies among the sand. His grand stature artistically carved by an able sculpture now lies trunkless in the desert. What remains are not the ruler's dynasty nor is lineage but the skills of the sculptor who has so carefully captured the 'frown and the wrinkled lip and the sneer of cold command'. The passions of the King are his only remains, cites the traveler. The traveler laughs at the emperor's works instead of despair. What remains of his dynasty is the huge desert stretched infinitely in all directions, boundless and bare.
Shelley points out man's fervor desire to make his 'name' immortal. He mocks at the king's faith that his name would flourish thousands of years after his time. Through the words of the traveler Shelley informs us that ‘time’ is more powerful than men. And even the ‘king of kings’ Ozymandias couldn’t make time his slave