Analysis Of Ozymandias By Percy Bysshe Shelley

Topics: Epic of Gilgamesh, Epic poetry, Ishtar, Poetry, Enkidu, Percy Bysshe Shelley / Pages: 3 (623 words) / Published: Nov 12th, 2015
In “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, an ancient statue is told to be proclaiming the creator's greatness in his empire, while standing alone in the desert. Although Ozymandias’s empire may have been great, the ceaseless march of time grinds all civilizations to oblivion, leaving only ironic reminders of their former glory. Created from the author's knowledge of fallen civilization in a contest with the his friend, the poem Ozymandias has become a cultural icon for the decay of what once was great. The inspiration for this poem comes from an artifact of the lost empire belonging to Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II, or Ozymandias as he was called by the Greeks. The artifact was acquired through much trouble by the British Empire in 1816. The artifact was a fragment of a great statue of Ramesses II, the head and torso, set to arrive in London in 1818. Shelly wrote his poem in 1817, having heard talk of the artifacts coming to london, in a friendly competition with fellow poet Horace Smith. The study of the decline of Egypt and its ruins was a popular subject in Britain at the time and no doubt influenced the poem. Shelley references “lone and level sands” as much of the yet to be evacuated Egyptian ruins were still underground, making what could be seen seem alone and distant. A popular idea at the time was the unwavering power of the English Empire, this poem contradicts that belief by saying that all empires, no matter how great, will one day fall and be forgotten. Knowing the history of the poem we can take a contextual look at the themes presented. …show more content…
Although the traditional 14 lines long, the iambic pentameter is loose surrounding the word and title of the poem Ozymandias. Traditionally pronounced with five syllables, a four syllable pronunciation is required to make the iambic pentameter, oz-ee-man-dee-es versus the shortened, oz-ee-mand-yes . The rhyme scheme is also a deviation from the traditional English sonnet. Starting traditionally, the abab cdcd rhyme scheme is broken early with the word command, who rhymes with the first and second line. This brings the line “And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command” into the poems structure in a different way from the other lines. By rhyming so heavily, this line, a descriptor of Ozymandias, feels natural like he could be nothing else but what is said. In contradiction, the line “And on the pedestal these words appear:” has no rhyme. This sets the reader back and breaking them out of the flow to the following quote from the monument to the former king, highlighting the irony. The quote describes the grandeur of the kings empire, and yet there is nothing but sand. A clever play of words is included as well, “The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:”. The hand that mocked them refers to the hand of the sculpture that made the kings legs and face, a “mock up” of the king. The double meaning is that the remainder of the kings empire and the wreckage of his statue “mocks” the king himself, who in his hubris declared that his works would live forever, but when rediscovered have crumbled to oblivion. The poem Ozymandias is about the irony in grand statements about vast empires, in that nothing can last and that time shall rule over all. Percy Bysshe Shelley uses irony, allusion, and a complicated rhyme scheme to communicate his theme. This poem being one of his more famous has left its mark on modern western culture and is relevant even in today's society as we more than ever see the collapse of governments

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