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"Ozymandias" was written in 1817 and published in 1818. It is one of Shelley's famous poems. The poem is a sonnet based on Greek history. The poem deals with the futility of power. In ancient Egypt, there was an autocratic king who was proud of his absolute power. But with time, his glory and power proved futile and discuss on critical appreciation of Ozymandias.
Critical appreciation of Ozymandias

The poem starts like a narrative. The speaker tells that he met a traveller who returned from an ancient country. The traveller saw a broken statue in the desert. The statue's two legs stood on the pedestal. The body was not upon the two legs. Near them was lying the shattered face of the statue. There were frowns. sneer and expression of cruel authority on the face. it seemed that the person who made the statue could understand the king's character well and took every care to reflect it on stone. Though the sculptor and the king died long back, the broken statue still reflects the pride and cruelty of the king. The small platform on which the legs stood bore an inscription. It says:

  "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
In that vast desert, there was nothing except that broken statue, the sign of the ruined power.

The poem is a short lyric of fourteen lines. It is composed in the form of a sonnsonnet. However, unlike a sonnet, it has three narrators: the I- speaker,  the traveller and the king. The observations of these narrators have been accommodated into the sonnet form. In the octave or first eight lines, the speaker introduces the traveller who narrates the broken statue, its sur- rounding and the impression reflected on the shattered face of it. In the sestet or last six lines, the traveller quotes the inscription on the pedestal. The inscription says that the statue is of Ozymandias who was the king of kings. He was more powerful than other kings were, and so, he was proud of his power. But with time this symbol of autocratic authority turned into a huge heap of ruins, lying pitifully in a lonely vast desert. This part ends with a comment on the meaninglessness of human power. The octave, thus, introduces the subject and the sestet concludes it with a reflection on the theme, the futility of human power on earth.

This sonnet differs from other sonnets in its rhyme scheme. It has an unusual rhyme scheme: ababa CDC edge few. It is neither a Petrarchan nor a Spenserian sonnet; it is not a Shakespearean sonnet as well. It seems that the poet has intentionally used a  complex rhyme scheme to match the hard reality of power and its futility. The smooth-going Petrarchan or Shakespearean rhyme scheme would have not matched the high-sounding boast, the ups and downs of a power-blinded king and The terrible horror hidden in the pride of power.

The diction of this sonnet has also been chosen to suit the subject of the poem. The poem lacks the lyrical case natural to Shelley. Shelley is a great lyricist: his other poems are marked with felicity of diction and easeful movements of the verses But in this poem, there are hard-sounding words which slow down the movement and at times, create the halting effect. For ex-ample, "truckless" "shattered" "sculptor" "Pedestal",  "Ozymandias" and the like, are hard-sounding words which hinder the smooth running of the verse lines. These words, however, reflect the nature of autocratic power.

The sonnet suggests Shelley's dislike for autocratic rule. Shelley re-  voted against all conventional values and corruption of the kings and priests. Though Shelley does not say anything directly here against the king, his disgust for power mongers has obviously been suggested in it. However, the poem deals with a universal truth about the futility of human vanity that causes pity in the readers. Therefore, it has a melancholic tone.


Unknown said...

what the f*k trump has to do with the Ozymandias???

Literature King said...


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