This is a sample notes page. Some things you may include on this page: OED definitions of antiquated terms within the poem or prose, notes about the text’s history or background, or points of interest regarding the text.

About the text:

It’s easy to find “Ozymandias” on the World Wide Web; however, you need to be careful about the way the poem’s been reproduced. While any version you find will be “roughly” accurate, there are differences in punctuation, capitalization, and spelling among the various versions. For instance see this e-text from Bartleby.com and notice the differences between it and the version I’ve reproduced on the wiki: http://www.bartleby.com/41/515.html

The version I’ve printed on the wiki is based on the standard version of Shelley’s poems found in The Norton Anthology of English Literature (see p. 744 in the 8th ed.) and Longman Anthology. The poem was originally published in The Examiner January 11th, 1818.

Notes on the poem:

Shelley’s title: Ozymandias is the Greek name for the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II. In the
Examiner, Shelley signed his name “Glirastes.”

Antique: Shelley is using this word to mean ancient; the traveller is coming from lands where there were ancient civilizations.

Sand: By using this word Shelley reinforces the notion of timelessness and of emptiness.

Some final words about the poem:

Shelley’s friend Horace Smith wrote a sonnet on the same topic, which was also published in The Examiner of February 1, 1811. Here’s Smith’s Sonnet:

In Egypt’s sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desart 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, —
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.
We wonder,- -and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro’ the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

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