Autodidact: self-taught


Shelley: “Ozymandias”

by V. L. Craven

This is one of my all-time favourite poems–I don’t know why I didn’t choose it straightaway.

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 do wonder why Shelley chose to have the poem being told from the point of view of another person rather than just having the narrator tell us, but I love the depiction of the sands stretching out for eternity and the legs, representing man’s hubris, there as a monument.

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