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Ozymandias

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Note by Muhammad Azam, Shaheen Academy, G-6/1-3, Islamabad.

Note by Muhammad Azam, Shaheen Academy, G-6/1-3, Islamabad.

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  • 1. Ozymandias 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,Reference: These verses have been taken form the poem /sonnet “Ozymandias”which is written by P.B Shelly.Context: In this masterful sonnet, P.B Shelly has portrayed the picture of ashattered, ruined statue in the desert wasteland, with its arrogant passionate face andthe desolate reality of his own life. The once-great king’s proud boast has beenironically condemned; Ozymandias’ works have crumbled and ceased to work. Hiscivilization is gone and the pride and power of kingdom has turned to dust by theimpersonal, indiscriminate, destructive power of history. As every pride hath a falland man is nothing before his birth /death. There is no use of being proud of theposition, wealth or fame in this temporal world as his life is unreliable and he has toleave sooner or later. This fact must be acknowledged by everyone in this world.Explanation: In this stanza the poet narrates his meeting with a traveller form aremote -historic land, who tells him about the ruins of a statue in the desert of hisnative country. The two vast legs of stone without body, and near them a massive,crumbling stone head lies half sunk in the sand. The traveller tells the poet that thefrown and sneer of cold command on the statue’s face indicate an air of authorityand arrogance. The account of his rise and fall is the outcome of shift of fortune. TheStatue symbolizes not only political power ---the statue can be a metaphor for thepride and hubris of all humanity, in any of its manifestations. The poet admires theart, which injected a lot of passion into lifeless things.Stanza 2. 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 upon 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.Explanation: In this stanza or verses the poet says that the statue is the man, whosneered with contempt for those weaker than himself, yet he fed his subject becauseof something in his heart. A message was inscribed on the pedestal or stand onwhich this broken statue was erected. He introduces himself as Ozymandias—theking of kings. Ironically, all his feelings of pride and prosperity are nothing morethan illusion and self-deception. The statue’s pride of his worldly position, wealth orfame in this temporal world has reduced to rubble as it stands alone and shattered inthe desert, half sunken in sand.

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