Friday, April 04, 2008

Poetry Friday - More Sonnets

The first sonnet I ever read was during the first week of high school in my ninth grade English class. The sonnet was by Percy Bysshe Shelley. I'm not sure why I loved the poem, but I did, and still do. Because of the spark ignited by that one poem, I am still reading and enjoying poetry of all sorts. Today I share that very first sonnet and one more.
Ozymandias of Egypt
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 shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd 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.

Lift not the painted veil
Lift not the painted veil which those who live
Call Life: though unreal shapes be pictured there,
And it but mimic all we would believe
With colours idly spread,--behind, lurk Fear
And Hope, twin Destinies; who ever weave
Their shadows, o'er the chasm, sightless and drear.
I knew one who had lifted it--he sought,
For his lost heart was tender, things to love,
But found them not, alas! nor was there aught
The world contains, the which he could approve.
Through the unheeding many he did move,
A splendour among shadows, a bright blot
Upon this gloomy scene, a Spirit that strove
For truth, and like the Preacher found it not.
The round up this week is being hosted by Becky over at Becky's Book Reviews. Please stop by and enjoy all the great poetry folks have selected to share. Before you go, be sure to check out this week's poetry stretch results. Happy poetry Friday, all!


  1. Yay more sonnets! I really like that second one. Unfortunately I makes me wonder about lifting that veil...

  2. I absolutely adored the first sonnet in high school, too. I was rather fond of muttering that pivotal line, "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!" at odd moments. I read it so many times that reading it I can hear myself reading it aloud. Thanks for the memory.

  3. We read Ozymandias in 6th grade (I don't know why we read it that early -- I think the teacher just loved it) and I remember loving it, too. I was giddy with the idea that I understood an "important" poem, and that in a few short lines the poet could convey such irony. Poetry Giddiness continues apace. :-)

  4. I love both of those poems, but Ozymandias best of the two. I always think of this poem when I listen to Sting's song, "Mad About You":

    They say a city in the desert lies
    The vanity of a ancient king
    But the city lies in broken pieces
    Where the wind howls and the vultures sing
    These are the works of man
    This is the sun of our ambition . . .

  5. Love the second sonnet. Good ponderings . . .

  6. I'd completely forgotten about reading Ozymandias back in school! Thanks for bringing it back. "Vast and trunkless legs of stone"--incredible.

  7. I had forgotten about it too. Thanks for the reminder. That's reason #2 why I LOVE Poetry Friday!!

  8. The "wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command" are what I remember from school. I could just picture that fragment of a mouth shattered in the sand.