2016 Winning Poem

The winning entry to the Eugene Lee-Hamilton Prize in 2016 was 'The Colossus' by Jacob Mercer, The Queen's College, Oxford. The sonnet was written as a response to 'Ozymandias' by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and both poems can be found below.


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.”

by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1817

The Colossus

I met a student in a spired land,

Who said– “The man you see above in stone

Made more than fortunes out of native bone

And diamonds, bled from Kalahari sand.

So came these walls and hallowed halls that stand

Beneath his white colossus and condone

His glorification. Go purge his throne!

Remember those who suffered by his hand.”

To right the wrongs of history we write

The sins of Man: a chronicle of dust,

To which we must return. Pay heed to all,

And render not their deeds in black and white.

Our fate, if we forget will be thus cursed:

Repeat the lives of statues doomed to fall.

by Jacob Mercer, The Queen's College, 2016