Ozymandias by shelley


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Ozymandias by shelley

  1. 1. Ozymandias by Shelley 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". Bushra saleh MSummaryThe speaker recalls having met a traveler “from an antique land,” who
  2. 2. told him a story about the ruins of a statue in the desert of his nativecountry. Two vast legs of stone stand without a body, and near them amassive, crumbling stone head lies “half sunk” in the sand. Thetraveler told the speaker that the frown and “sneer of cold command”on the statue‟s face indicate that the sculptor understood well thepassions of the statue‟s subject, a man who sneered with contempt forthose weaker than himself, yet fed his people because of something inhis heart (“The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed”). Onthe pedestal of the statue appear the words: “My name is Ozymandias,king of kings: / Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Butaround the decaying ruin of the statue, nothing remains, only the “loneand level sands,” which stretch out around it, far away.Form“Ozymandias” is a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem metered in iambicpentameter. The rhyme scheme is somewhat unusual for a sonnet ofthis era; it does not fit a conventional Petrarchan pattern, but insteadinterlinks the octave (a term for the first eight lines of a sonnet) withthe sestet (a term for the last six lines), by gradually replacing oldrhymes with new ones in the form ABABACDCEDEFEF.CommentaryThis sonnet from 1817 is probably Shelley‟s most famous and mostanthologized poem—which is somewhat strange, considering that it isin many ways an atypical poem for Shelley, and that it touches littleupon the most important themes in his oeuvre at large (beauty,expression, love, imagination). Still, “Ozymandias” is a masterfulsonnet. Essentially it is devoted to a single metaphor: the shattered,ruined statue in the desert wasteland, with its arrogant, passionate faceand monomaniacal inscription (“Look on my works, ye Mighty, anddespair!”). The once-great king‟s proud boast has been ironicallydisproved; Ozymandias‟s works have crumbled and disappeared, hiscivilization is gone, all has been turned to dust by the impersonal,indiscriminate, destructive power of history. The ruined statue is nowmerely a monument to one man‟s hubris, and a powerful statement
  3. 3. about the insignificance of human beings to the passage of time.Ozymandias is first and foremost a metaphor for the ephemeral natureof political power, and in that sense the poem is Shelley‟s mostoutstanding political sonnet, trading the specific rage of a poem like“England in 1819” for the crushing impersonal metaphor of the statue.But Ozymandias symbolizes not only political power—the statue canbe a metaphor for the pride and hubris of all of humanity, in any of itsmanifestations. It is significant that all that remains of Ozymandias is awork of art and a group of words; as Shakespeare does in the sonnets,Shelley demonstrates that art and language long outlast the otherlegacies of power.Of course, it is Shelley‟s brilliant poetic rendering of the story, and notthe subject of the story itself, which makes the poem so memorable.Framing the sonnet as a story told to the speaker by “a traveller froman antique land” enables Shelley to add another level of obscurity toOzymandias‟s position with regard to the reader—rather than seeingthe statue with our own eyes, so to speak, we hear about it fromsomeone who heard about it from someone who has seen it. Thus theancient king is rendered even less commanding; the distancing of thenarrative serves to undermine his power over us just as completely ashas the passage of time. Shelley‟s description of the statue works toreconstruct, gradually, the figure of the “king of kings”: first we seemerely the “shattered visage,” then the face itself, with its “frown / Andwrinkled lip and sneer of cold command”; then we are introduced tothe figure of the sculptor, and are able to imagine the living mansculpting the living king, whose face wore the expression of thepassions now inferable; then we are introduced to the king‟s people inthe line, “the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.” Thekingdom is now imaginatively complete, and we are introduced to theextraordinary, prideful boast of the king: “Look on my works, yeMighty, and despair!” With that, the poet demolishes our imaginarypicture of the king, and interposes centuries of ruin between it and us:“  „Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!‟ / Nothing besideremains. Round the decay / Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,/ The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
  4. 4. In the poem Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley brings out his talent inpoetry writing in the way he uses vocabulary to impress the reader.It� not the story of the poem that makes the poem memorable, but sthe way the poet brings it out.The poem is about the remains of a statue of a once powerful pharaohin Egypt named Ramsses II or Ozymandias. This king was verypowerful and was very arrogant. He was too proud of himself andthought that nothing was more superior than he was. The poetdescribes one of the many statues of Ozymandias. This statue oncestood in the middle of the Sahara Desert but now what remains is onlya pair of huge legs standing on the sand with a ruined face half sunk inthe sand near them. The poet describes the face of the statue as with adomineering expression like the expression Ozymandias had on hisface when he was still alive. The message on the statue said:"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"Which means you can never be powerful as I am. At last we come toknow that even if this pharaoh was once very powerful he still dies likeus normal humans do and nothing of him is left except a ruined statuein the middle of nowhere!The poem consists of an octave and a sestet. In the octave the sense ofpower is felt while in the sestet we become aware that the works ofmankind don� last and that we all have to die �whether we� a t reking of kings or a normal citizen. The poet uses words like � Two vastand trunkless legs of stone" to show us that before the statue gotruined it was quite a big statue. When describing the statue as � halfsunk�and � shattered�in the sand we get a clear picture of two hugelegs in the middle of a desert with its face near them in the sand.Shelley brings out the emotions on the statue� face by describing the s� frown�and � wrinkled lip�that can be seen although the statue isbroken, the � sneer of cold command�makes you imagine someonewhich thinks that no one can be above him as in fact was Ramsses II.When the poet tells us that the emotions of the statue are still there,this implies that although nothing of the material things remain, youwill still be remembered for the man you were �After Ozymandiasdied he was still remembered as a cold and arrogant person whothought was the best. In the poet� opinion the sculptor who made this sstatue couldn� describe Ramsses II any better � well those passions t �
  5. 5. read� He finishes off his poem by saying that: ."Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bareThe lone and level sands stretch far away."Which means that only a ruined statue in the middle of nowhere is leftof a once very powerful king!All these are examples of how Percy Shelley manages to make usimagine all that he wants us to. In my opinion, the great talent of thispoet cannot be explained!