Friday, April 12, 2024

The Masked Poet - Ozymandias

In 1817 and 1818, Rameses II was all the rage and topic of many a conversation.  Around Christmastime of 1817, Percy Shelley and his buddy Horace Smith were sitting around discussing ancient pharaohs, as one is wont to do, and decided to see who could write the best poem about Rameses II using the title "Ozymandias".  Both got published and experienced some acclaim, but Shelley's poem is the one remembered.  

That begs the question - is Shelley's poem remembered because it is greater or because he was the more popular poet?  The power of an author's name is nothing to dismiss.  Look at any Stephen King book published today and you will see his name in large letters and the title of the book small in comparison.  You also have the trend of writers loaning out their characters (Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler do this) and their name is still huge while the actual writer of the book gets the small print at the bottom of the cover.

In order to figure this out, we need a little blind taste test (so to speak) and what better way to do that than in the spirit of The Masked Singer?

I have a document made up and ready to print for your classroom needs.  You can get it here.  One one side, we have The Rook (Percy Shelley) and the other side we have The Bishop (Horace Smith).  I hand it out to students randomly so that they read different sides first since the order of reading may impact the judgement of the two poems.  

If you use it in your class, drop me an email or leave a comment.

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