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Poem by OZYMANDIS, by PERCY SHELLEY - Essay Example

This is emphasized by Shelley through the use of imagery of destruction and a narrative format of the sonnet; Shelley also creates an overpowering sense of loneliness by extensively using alliteration. The imagery of destruction is prevalent in the sonnet reminding the readers and the speaker not only that time can destroy the greatest of civilizations, but that man’s existence is temporary and ephemeral. The speaker tells us that the legs of the statue are missing a trunk, “trunkless legs of stone” (2). Its face is “half sunk” in sand and is described as being shattered (4). The once proud Ozymandias is now nothing but broken stone, remembered only by an inscription. Although the words on the pedestal boast of a mighty “king of kings”, they are surrounded by nothing but decay (10). Ozymandias’ civilization was once huge and powerful, however, history and time has eroded and destroyed them, leaving nothing behind but a “colossal wreck” (13). The words also urge the readers to “Look on my works” where one of these “works” happens to be the carved statue, now just a pair of stone legs (11). Ironically, Ozymandias himself is drawing attention to the fact that man’s power is transient. The broken statue is lost amidst the desert sands that “stretch far away” highlighting the vastness of time and how it engulfs everything (14). Shelley effectively uses the imagery of destruction from the beginning to the end of the poem, depicting how this isn’t an occurrence for Ozymandias alone. Instead, the

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ruined statue is a timeless metaphor of the temporary existence of man’s power and pride. Shelley portrays the sonnet as a narrative, outlining the account of Ozymandias and how his boastfulness and power is now lying in ruins. The start of the poem frames the setting of the tale pertaining to something distant and lost. For example, the words “traveler from an antique land” take the reader to a place far off, somewhere lost in the folds of history (1). The traveler himself belongs to an “antique” time and place, adding to the obscurity and vagueness of Ozymandias’s lost power and civilization. Even the speaker hasn’t seen the statue with his own eyes and sees it through the eyes of a distant traveler, thus adding another layer of isolation. The readers and the speaker are first introduced to the detached legs of the king, already portrayed as powerless and helpless. Next to the legs is his face which is locked in a frown and a “sneer of cold command” (5). The image of the king is fully portrayed as shattered and destroyed, half sunk in the sand, devoid of any respect and power. Shelley then introduces the sculptor, the person responsible for permanently etching the cold expression of Ozymandias’ face. The readers can imagine the sculptor carving the image if a man who once lived and most probably wore the same expressions of “cold command” and “wrinkled lip” while ruling (5). His kingdom is inferred in the next line of the poem adding on to the story of Ozymandias and his empire. For example, he was a king that ruled over his people strictly while at the same time providing for them, “The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed” (8). Ozymandias’ power and pride are emphasized by the inscription on the pedestal. For a moment, the image of the king stands tall and powerful. However, this is soon deteriorated into nothingness, lying buried in the


Institution of Learning: Ozymandias by Percy Shelley Percy Shelley’s Ozymandias is a sonnet that tells of a speaker meeting a traveler who describes to him the ruins of a great king, Ozymandias, in a desert…
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