It was thought that the gods blew on creative people, who would then inhale the god's breath and have an idea. This is the premise of "inspiration": inhaling divine breath and ideas.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


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


  1. A nice take on a famous work. Well done.

  2. Nice post. Ozymandias brings me fond memories of my English classes, and with that, of one Mr.Christie Doss, who taught us English and Hindi.
    Anyway, browsing through the net, I found that PBS had written this sonnet in competition with his friend Horace Smith. Smith's version of Ozymandias is as follows:

    In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
    Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
    The only shadow that the Desert knows:
    "I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
    "The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
    "The wonders of my hand." The City's gone,
    Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
    The site of this forgotten Babylon.
    We wonder, and some Hunter may express
    Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
    Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
    He meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess
    What powerful but unrecorded race
    Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

    Same message in different words..!

  3. Hi Abhinav,

    Thank u. Looking forward to join cafewriting soon.

    Hi Prasad,

    Yes, it's quiet a nostalgic poem.
    I think Shelley and Horace Smith ran into the same 'traveller'!