Shelley was a maverick: a renowned atheist and proponent of "free love" when such things were decidedly unfashionable. He was good friends with the notorious Lord Byron, and his brilliant wife Mary wrote the decidedly "un-womanly" Frankenstein
, one of the first great novels.
As a poet, he was ambitious and passionate, and is criticized for letting his poems get out of control. I think Ozymandias, however, is extraordinarily tight, as Shelley manages to squeeze a sort of epic resonance into a sonnet.Ozymandias
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.
Percy Bysshe Shelley was born August 4, 1792 in Sussex, England. He is considered to be one of the great poets of the British Romantic Period along with William Wordsworth, Lord Byron and John Keats. Like Keats, Shelley died young, drowning in a shipwreck shortly before his thirtieth birthday.