Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe 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."

Part of what makes this poem so amazing is that Shelley makes the irony in the poem so obvious. I think that it is a smart tactic because there are many different levels to the irony that it makes it clear to the reader to explore these. I think tha the poem in a very visual way makes it clear that death is the great equalizer. Though Qzymandias wanted to establish his status for all of time with the statue he is unable to because death erases everything and puts us all on the same level. We only have what we do while we are living, and this is illustarted by the fact that everything that was Ozymandius's has been worn to sand and despite the writing on the statue does not exist. Because the writing on the statue no longer exists this makes a mockery of him which is ironic because during his life it was he who had the power to mock others because of his power. In his inability to let go of his physical possessions he makes himself look like a joke for eternity rather then a fearsome leader.


Blogger Lilan said...

I think you touched upon the point of how silly Ozymandius looks now very well, and really got what the poem was trying to say. I think it's cool that Shelley was able to write about death using an object that isn't alive, and not really talking about death at all.

7:21 AM  

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