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Flapper Press Poetry Café Series: My Favorite Poetry—Percy Bysshe Shelley

By Flapper Press Poetry Café:

The Flapper Press Poetry Café continues a new series of articles about favorite lines of poetry and the poets who wrote them. We’re reaching out to poets, writers, and lovers of poetry to submit their favorite lines of poetry and tell us why you love them.

Check out our submission guidelines and send us your favorites!

We'll feature your submission sometime this year on our site!

This week, our submission comes from Flapper Press contributor Chris Kirley.


Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Posthumous Portrait of Shelley Writing Prometheus Unbound"; painting by Joseph Severn, 1845

Chris Kirley writes:

My favorite lines in poetry or prose always convey some universal truth or sentiment that defies time and transcends the epoch in which the passage was written.

In keeping with this mindset, when I was tasked several years ago to put on a retreat program for my law firm, I tried to come up with a timeless yet pertinent theme. What I settled on was "change"—a constant in all our lives that if ignored can result in the downfall of relationships and careers. In preparation for the event, I asked all of my partners to read Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

In preparing my remarks to open the program, I needed something that was short, powerful, and to the point. Ozymandias immediately popped into my mind. First read my sophomore year in high school, the lessons of this poem have always cautioned me whenever I thought I could rest on my laurels.

The last lines of the poem sum it all up:

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.

Thanks, Percy!


Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) is now recognized as one of the great poets of the nineteenth century. As his work was deemed too radical by contemporary critics, fame eluded him in life. He wrote classic poetry such as "Ode to the West Wind" and "The Masque of Anarchy." "Ozymandias" was first published in 1818.

His second wife was Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, which was a product of change itself as it was written during 1816, the year with no summer, caused by the eruption of the volcano Tambora in 1815.

To read more about Percy Bysshe Shelley:


Chris Kirley is a retired M&A lawyer who has had a lifelong love of the written word. He feels the only way to stay sane while practicing law is to immerse oneself in great literature.

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