Chances are you read, or didn’t read, this one in high school. The frequently-anthologized poem arose from a contest between author Percy Bysshe Shelley and Horace Smith. Yep…an old-fashioned sonnet-off, to mark the British Museum’s 1818 acquisition of a statue of Ramesses II… aka Ozymandias. And, of course…just part of the statue.

Shelley’s poem won out, while Smith’s went the way of, well, Ramesses II. But decide for yourself by reading and/or listening right now at


Photo: The “Ozymandias Collossus”, Ramesseum, Luxor, Egypt, by Charlie Phillips, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.