The Ozymandius Challenge

Poets Percy Shelley and Horace Smith had a contest to see who was the better poet. They picked the topic of Ozymandius, a great pharoah of olden times. Here are the two poems. You will decide which one is better:

Poem A

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.

Poem B

I met a traveler 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.

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The Romantic Period

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A Poison Tree


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