1] Shelley evidently wrote this sonnet at Marlow in friendly competition with Horace Smith, whose own sonnet of the same name was published Feb. 1, 1818, also in The Examiner, no. 527, p. 73:
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 fragments huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
5] lip Bod. Shelley MS e.4; lips 1819
6] Lines 6-8 pose some difficulty, but "survive" (7) must be
a transitive verb whose object is "The hand" and "the heart" (8). The "passions"
on Ozymandias' face, that is, survive or live on after both hand and heart. "The
hand that mocked them" seems to be the sculptor's hand, delineating the
vainglory of his subject in "these lifeless things"; and "the heart that fed"
must be Ozymandias' own, feeding on (perhaps) its own arrogance. Kelvin Everest
and Geoffrey Matthews suggest that line 8 ends with an ellipsis: "and the heart
that fed [them]" (that is, those same passions that are the referent of the
pronoun "them" governed by "mocked" (The Poems of Shelley, II: 1817-1819
[London: Pearson, 2000]: 311).
9] these words appear: 1819; this legend clear Bodl.
Shelley MS e.4.
10] Ozymandias: Osymandias, Greek name for the Egyptian king
Rameses II (1304-1237 BC). Diodorus Siculus, in his Library of History
(trans. C. H. Oldfather, Loeb Classical Library, vol. 303 [Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, 1961]: I, 47), records the inscription on the pedestal
of his statue (at the Ramesseum, on the other side of the Nile river from Luxor)
as "King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and
where I lie, let him surpass one of my works."
12] Nothing beside remains: 1819; No thing remains beside. Bodl. Shelley MS. e.4.