Tutorial letter 201/3/2014
FOUNDATIONS IN ENGLISH LITERARY
Semesters 1 & 2
Department of English Studies
FEEDBACK AND EXAMINATION GUIDELINES
FEEDBACK ON ASSIGNMENT 01
In this feedback letter, we have given you some pointers about how you could have answered the five questions on the poem. We expected you to expand these ideas sufficiently in order to earn full marks. Please note that you will pass only if you do the following:
express yourself in intelligible English;
engage fully with the way the poem uses language; and
avoid merely summarising the content of the poem.
Assignment 01: Poetry (Seasons Come to Pass)
Read the text of the poem below and then answer the questions that follow:
OZYMANDIAS (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
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".
What kind of man was the Pharaoh Ozymandias, do you think? Quote from the poem to substantiate your answer.
The “frown” (line 4), “wrinkled lip” (line 5) and “sneer of cold command” (line 5) suggest that Ozymandias was an imposing, unsympathetic, disparaging, contemptuous, cruel and haughty person. The reference to himself as “King of Kings” (line 10), in the inscription on the pedestal, suggests that he was a man of great arrogance and conceit. This impression is reinforced by the words that follow: “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” (line 11), which suggest a boastful attitude and excessive pride in his achievements.
The poet takes great care to describe, in lines 4 and 5, the „passions‟ of Ozymandias that are „stamped on these lifeless things‟ (line 7). What is the effect of the juxtaposition of “passions” and „lifeless‟? What is Shelley suggesting about human ambition?
The juxtaposition of “passions” and “lifeless” emphasizes the contrast between liveliness and energy and what is dead, devoid of life; between the ruler, Ozymandias, whose “passions” suggests a man of strong, intense emotions, and the statue, a “lifeless” sculpture made of stone. Ironically, what has survived the ravages of time (albeit in pieces) is the sculpture, a work of art, while the great ruler, Ozymandias, and all his accomplishments have been destroyed by time. Shelley is suggesting the transient (fleeting, short-lived,) nature of human ambition and life. It does not matter how powerful one is, the passage of time erodes and reduces to insignificance the grandest of ambitions and the most powerful of people.
The “hand” and the “heart” (line 8) are, of course, the hand and heart of the sculptor, not Ozymandias. Discuss the irony in this fact, referring particularly to lines 10 and 11.
The inscription in lines 10 and 11 (“Look on my works, ye mighty and despair!”) suggests a man who is extremely proud and boastful of his achievements and power. However, the passage of time has eroded and destroyed both him and all his works. All that remains is a ruined statue in a desert. It is ironic that, as important and powerful as he thought he was, the only remnant of him is the sculpture, a work of art that captures the memory of his arrogance and conceit. Art, or “these lifeless things”, has endured over the hubris (pride) and passions of Ozymandias, a once...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document