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Featured Poem: Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Written by The Reader, 17th July 2018

This week we have Patrick, a work experience student with us, and he's kindly shared a favourite poem for our weekly feature. Reflecting on the success of the English team at this year's World Cup, Patrick has been reading Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley is a poem that criticizes people in positions of power and control who think they are untouchable, these people tend to be egotistical and are viewed as narcissists. For example the poem is about a statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II which slowly decays and falls apart over time, the statue is used as a metaphor to show Ramesses’ gradual loss of power over time and how all authority over people eventually comes to an end. As leaders tend to have so much power in the present day their countries are often divided and there is a sense of disunity amongst the citizens.

This contrasts with the story of the English Football team, led by an uninspiring, ‘boring’ Gareth Southgate the team overcame all expectations set by the media and public to reach a semi-final for the first time since 1990, the team brought a sense of unity, hope and happiness throughout the country.

The poem’s message is that eventually things such as greed and power eventually will cease to exist and that negative things don’t last in life. However, a sense of unity and community is what gives people hope and the power to achieve the unexpected just like the English Football team.


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.”
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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