Fleeting power

Topics: Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias, Word Pages: 2 (827 words) Published: October 24, 2014

Rene Walsh
Professor Kauffman
ENGL 231-02
Fleeting Power
Power is dominance. Power is influence. Power is a virtue and power is a vice. In the poem entitled “Ozymandias,” author Percy Shelley brings to life a tale of power and how it holds up, or fails to hold up, through time. The poem describes the wreckage of a stone statue built by a past ruler; “And on the pedestal these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings” (9-10). Through the following lines, “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” (11), it is clear that Ozymandias was a sort of conqueror. However, Ozymandias’ rule did not withstand time and, as Shelley states, “Nothing besides remains” (12). Through the wording of these four lines, author Percy Shelley is able to clearly express the theme of the poem, which is that of tyrants and temporary power. The poem “Ozymandias” begins with an unnamed narrator telling the readers of a traveler he met in an “antique land.” The traveler in turn tells a story, thereon becoming the narrator for the duration of the poem, and begins describing the wreckage of a nearby statue. The statue, which was probably tall and massive when first sculpted, is the focus of the poem and how it now is only a “colossal wreck,” left alone in the desert. He describes how only two legs remain of the statue, along with a sunken figure of the head. The menacing words of Ozymandias, the apparent builder of the statue, are etched into the remaining statue, telling the world to look at the work he created “and despair.” The poem ends with the traveler once again stating that the statue is in ruins and alone in the desert. Declaring oneself king is nothing new to human history; various dictators and conquerors have been seen throughout time. By apparently constructing a statue of himself, Ozymandias is asserting his dominance over past inhabitants of the desert. He etches his name onto the “pedestal,” suggesting that the statue was looking down at it viewers,...
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