1818 | London

Aging Monument

The King of Kings.

I met a traveler 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.” Shelley abandoned his wife and child in 1814, eloping with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. Two years later, during a summer in Geneva with Lord Byron, he composed “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” and “Mont Blanc,” while she began Frankenstein. In 1822 Shelley drowned at the age of twenty-nine off the coast of Tuscany, a volume of Keats’ poems in his pocket.