Summary Of 'Ozymandias' By Percy Bysshe Shelly

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The poem “Ozymandias” written by Percy Bysshe Shelly tells a tale of a journey to a desert, in which, the author meets a traveler from an ‘antique land.’ The traveler tells the author about two large stone legs standing in the desert. Close to the legs lies another large stone, but this one has a face. The face is distinguished by a look of anger or sadness. In the sand, there is a pedestal that has a message inscribed on it – the message reads: ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings/ Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ The poem is a story about tyranny and how time makes a mockery of the boastfulness of even the most powerful kings. One could describe Percy Bysshe Shelly’s poem as an irregular sonnet describing the remains of a large statue of a large Egyptian pharaoh. The sonnet begins with a statement that arouses the interest of the reader: “I met a traveler from an antique land / Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone / stand in the desert . . .” The addition of the traveler gives the reader a hint…show more content…
This creates a great sense of mystery and interest: the reader is getting a story told by a poet, who heard it from a traveler who may or may not have actually seen the statue. The monument itself is an expression of the sculptor, who may or may not have captured the passions of the king. The best interpretation of the king is not the statue, but the kings own words written on the pedestal, “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings.” The author chose to convey his story through poetry to create something more powerful and enduring than anything politics could have achieved – while eventually understanding that Shelly’s words too will eventually pass, the same as Ozymandias, also known as Ramesses’ II reign and ‘lasting’ impression eventually eroded into the sands of
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