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Ozymandias “Ozymandias” to express to us that possessions do not mean immortality. He used very strong imagery and irony to get his point across throughout the poem. In drawing these vivid and ironic pictures in our minds, Shelley was trying to explain that no one lives forever, and nor do their possessions. Shelley expresses this poems moral through a vivid and ironic picture. A shattered stone statue with only the legs and head remaining, standing in the desert, the face is proud and arrogant, “Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read”(lines, 4-6).

On the pedestal of the statue, there are these words, “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”(Lines, 10-11). However, all that surrounds the statue is a desert. This poem is written to express to us that possessions dont mean immortality, the king who seemed to think that his kingdom would remain under his statues haughty gaze forever, ironically teaches us this through his epitaph. “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”(Line, 11) becomes good advice, though in an opposite meaning than the king intended, for it comes to mean that despite all the power and might one acquires in the course of their life, material possessions will not last forever. In the end, the Kings “works” are nothing, and the lines inscribed upon his statue are a sermon to those who read it.

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This is a poem about art. Shelley used imagery and a very impressive ironical way to write this poem. Basically, the poem is divided into two parts; the first eight lines are describing an ancient decayed sculpture seen by a traveler. The last six lines however talk about the words on the pedestal and the desolate surroundings; he contrasts the great sculpture with the surrounding emptiness, which gave a stronger feeling about the poem. In Shelleys work, it described the visage “sneer of cold command”(Line, 5). From this you can imagine a very conceited, arrogant pharaoh, commanding his people building this great vast statue hoping his power would be immortality.

And when this great piece of work is done, he demanded to put such words on the pedestal: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look at my works, ye Mighty and despair!”(Lines, 10-11). Ozymandias seemed to think that as long as his sculpture was there, his kingdom would last forever. But according to this poem, after hundreds and thousands of years, the only thing left is sand and the rotting and decaying sculpture. Shelley wrote, ” Nothing beside remains”(line, 12) after the words ” Look at my works,”(line, 11).

This is really sarcastic because the prior sentence was just talking about how great and fabulous this sculpture was and how the king thought about possessing his kingdom forever this way. Then, the next sentence comes with- “Nothing beside remains”(line, 12). Shelley is trying to tell us something through this vivid and ironic picture described in the poem, which is no one lives forever, and nor do their possessions. In the poem, this pharaoh thought that even if he past away, his kingdom, power and possessions would still remain the same, and forever this way. But in reality, its impossible. Like the poem said, the kings work became nothing, only shattered statue with legs and head left, lying in the desert.

Shelley put a clear image in all our minds when he talked about the power and desires of this mighty king. All Ozymandias wanted was immortality, which everyone in this world, even today, would die for. Who knows, maybe that was the key to the kings impractical dream.


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