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"Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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adam webb

on 13 March 2015

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Transcript of "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Looking Closely at a Poem... :)
Poem: “Ozymandias”
Poet: Percy Bysshe Shelley
Written: 1818
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.
Poem: “On A Stupendous Leg of Granite, Discovered Standing by Itself in the Deserts of Egypt, with the Inscription Inserted Below”
Poet: Horace Smith
Written: 1818
In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand." The City's gone,
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.
We wonder, and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
Shelley and Smith wrote their poems as a competition
Shelley’s was published first, then Smith’s in the same magazine.
Ozymandias, also known as Ramesses II in Greek.
Ramesses II (reigned 1279 BCE to 1213 BCE) - also known as Ramesses the Great.
First impression of Ozymandias
is one described by someone else,
he does not see it himself...
The fallen, the destroyed
dream of power of a cruel
ruler, hollow, ironic words
and their meanings remain...
Smith's poem takes a different
Smith starts with a image
of a "gigantic Leg..."
...this lone gigantic Leg resounds throughout Smith's poem...
Who is this "Hunter" Smith mentions?
...the Hunter will wonder what people once inhabited this place...
What are your thoughts
on Shelley's poem?
What are your thoughts
on Smith's poem?
How are Shelley and Smith's
poems similar? Different?
Compare/contrast them...
Percy Bysshe Shelley described the setting as a wasteland where there was once a great kingdom that fell into ashes.
The traveler tells the English writer that the "sneer and the cold command" indicates the statue's face is the memory of emotions stamped on the lifeless sculpture. That the statue was once a piece of rock that represented a society of control and power. On the other hand, it makes you imagine that something corrupted the authority, all of sudden it crumbled and couldn't find its way to regain dominance.
The irony of this poem is that everything great will eventually come to an end. That even one day, us, the reader, will have the same fate as the Great Ozymandias. Shelley ends his poem with a sense of loss and despair in an isolated desert.
The setting seems to be in a desolate, solitary place.
The metaphor for these two poems would be hidden in the setting. It makes the poems look and sound desolate.
What is the theme of the poem?
That nothing lasts forever, even the most powerful have to decay, and within time they will be forgotten, even the statue it’s degraded to broken pieces caused by the nature.
That nature never disappears, representing a form of immortality.

The language used in this poem seems to be old. The setting of it changes from being a description of the statue to a narrative that tries to explain what happened to it and why we have forgotten it. This poem uses stereotypes such as the way people with power use it to show that they are powerful, in this case by a huge statue of Ramses the II.
In conclusion, these two poems tell us that “Ozymandias” was someone with a lot of power in that era. Both of these poems have in common the statues that represent power and respect. The two statues show a King with authority and dominion. The difference in both poems is that in Shelley's poem the “Ozymandias” is from the narration of a traveler, and in Smith's the poet addresses questions of origin. Both poems describe the statue of a powerful king. The language of both poems is composed of words not used in every day conversation, but we can make some inferences and analyze this vocabulary.
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