The ironic last line of Kipling's poem yesterday ("See how our works endure") has an echo of Shelley's celebrated sonnet which also deals with the vanity and transience of human achievement.

I once saw the manuscript of Ozymandias in Oxford's Bodleian Library, complete with black ink blots and doodles – fascinating.


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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.