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*hythe: a landing-place, port or haven


Ozymandias is a sonnet. A poem of 14 lines. The poem tells of a broken statue with a pedestal that the poet finds. And the words on the pedestal says, “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” But what was there to see? Debris. Giant legs of stone and a broken face.

The mighty Ozymandias had created a colossal statue and, apparently, a mighty kingdom, since he was a ‘king of kings.’ But what was left centuries after were just traces of what had been.

Look on my works ye mighty and despair!


Vanity upon vanity

Ozymandias had magnificent physical creations, but when time hit it, all that was left was the remains of his statue. Alone in the desert. Kingdom gone, works gone. The ‘despair’ he must have intended was for the mighty to realise he was the greatest. But Time had eaten it all away. What was left to make the mighty tremble? The realisation that physical works will fade away with time.

Incidentally, Shelley’s poem is based on an actual person; Pharaoh Ramses II. He ruled the Egyptian New Kingdom for sixty-six years. His reign began in 1279 BC until his death in the summer of 1213 BC. 


What stays in the hearts and lives of people? And what can be passed down from generation to generation? It is what you are remembered for. Pharaoh Ramses’ history and antecedents are what have been passed down. Not his physical buildings.

Few poems have made an impact in my life. I wanted to share this one with you. What is your favourite poem? Tell me.

Lots of love,




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.”

Source: Shelley’s Poetry and Prose (1977)