Let’s imagine.........
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.'
by Percey Bysshe Shelley (1818)
Main Idea
This is a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley who lived in
the 19th century. In the poem, the author recalls aa
traveller telling him about an “imaginary world” of a
large , but decayed, sculptured statue (Ozymandias)
in the desert. The name, “Ozymandias” is another
name for Rameses, the Great, Pharoah of the 19th
dynasty of ancient Egypt. It goes on to describe what
is inscribed on the stone pedestal on which the base
of the statue rests.
The inscription, in summary, says that the works of
man are nothing compared to the works of nature. In
other words, the sands of the desert remain long
after the statue has disintegrated.
This is a sonnet of 14 lines in length: 8 being the
octave and 6 being the sestet. It is written in iambic
pentameter rhythm. Its rhyme schemeis:
It is an extended metaphor for the ephemeral
nature of political power.
The traveller tells the author that the sculptor
of the statue understood well the passions of
the statue’s subject, a man (Ozymandias aka
Rameses) who sneered with contempt for
those weaker than himself, yet fed his people
because of something in his heart (“The hand
that mocked them and the heart that fed”).
The one-great king’s proud boast “Look on
my works, ye Mighty, and despair!“ has been
disproved by time. His works have crumbled
and disappeared, his civilisation has gone, all
has been turned to dust by the indiscriminate
power of history. The statue is an example of
one man’s hubris and a powerful statement
about the insignificance of human beings to
the passage of time.

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