Ozymandias

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{god, call, give}
{son, year, death}
{language, word, form}
{theory, work, human}
{work, book, publish}
{island, water, area}
{church, century, christian}
{film, series, show}
{style, bgcolor, rowspan}

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.[1]

"Ozymandias" (usually pronounced /ˌɒziˈmændi.əs/,[2] although it must be pronounced with four syllables in order to fit the poem's meter) is a sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, published in 1818 (see 1818 in poetry). It is frequently anthologised and is probably Shelley's most famous short poem. It was written in competition with his friend Horace Smith, who wrote another sonnet entitled "Ozymandias" seen below.

In addition to the power of its themes and imagery, the poem is notable for its virtuosic diction. The rhyme scheme of the sonnet is unusual[3] and creates a sinuous and interwoven effect.

Contents

Analysis

The central theme of "Ozymandias" is the inevitable complete decline of all leaders, and of the empires they build, however mighty in their own time.

Ozymandias was another name for Ramesses the Great, Pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt.[4] Ozymandias represents a transliteration into Greek of a part of Ramesses' throne name, User-maat-re Setep-en-re. The sonnet paraphrases the inscription on the base of the statue, given by Diodorus Siculus in his Bibliotheca historica as "King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works."[5] Shelley's poem is often said to have been inspired by the arrival in London of a colossal statue of Ramesses II, acquired for the British Museum by the Italian adventurer Giovanni Belzoni in 1816.[6] Rodenbeck and Chaney, however,[7] point out that the poem was written and published before the statue arrived in Britain, and thus that Shelley could not have seen it. Its repute in Western Europe preceded its actual arrival in Britain (Napoleon had previously made an unsuccessful attempt to acquire it for France, for example), and thus it may have been its repute or news of its imminent arrival rather than seeing the statue itself which provided the inspiration.

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