The Other Ozymandias
The sonnet Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley is so famous that it really needs no introduction here. What you may not know, however, is that Shelley’s poem was one of a pair with the same title on the same theme and submitted to the literary magazine The Examiner. Shelley’s poem was published on January 11th 1818; the other Ozymandias, composed by Shelley’s friend Horace Smith, appeared about three weeks later on February 1st. I can see why Shelley’s is the more famous of the two!
In Egypt’s sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows.
“I am great Ozymandias,” saith the stone,
“The King of kings: this mighty city shows
The wonders of my hand.” The city’s gone!
Naught but the leg remaining to disclose
The sight of that forgotten Babylon.
We wonder, and some hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when through the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the wolf in chase,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What wonderful, but unrecorded, race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.