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Ozymandias as a sonnet

"Ozymandias" is a unique sonnet composed by Percy Bysshe Shelley, a revolutionary poet of the Romantic period. The poem is about the futility of human achievements. It mocks at human pride in power and pelf. 

The poem is a short lyric of fourteen lines. It has the form of a son net. However, unlike a sonnet, it has three narrators: the I-speaker, the traveller and the king. The observations of these narrators have been accommodated to 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 by the shattered face of it. In the sestet or in the 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 the passage of time this symbol of auto cratic 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 comment on the futility of power on earth.

This sonnet differs from other sonnets in its rhyme scheme. It has an unusual rhyme scheme: ababa cdc ede fef. It is neither a Petrarchan nor a Spenserian sonnet; nor it is a Shakespearean sonnet. It seems that the poet has intentionally used an unusual rhyme scheme to match the hard reality about power and its futility. The smooth going Petrarchan or Shakespearean rhyme scheme would not match the high sounding boast, the ups and downs of a power-blinded king and the terrible horror hid den 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 lyricism natural to Shelley. Shelley is a great lyricist; his other poems are marked with felicity of diction, easeful movements of the verses. But in this poem, there are hard-sounding words, which slow down the movement and at times, create halting effect. For example, "trunk less", "shattered", "sculptor", "Pedestal", "Ozymandias" and so on are hard sounding words which hinder the smooth running of the verse lines. These words, however, reflect the ups and downs of autocratic power.

"Ozymandias" is, therefore, an exquisite sonnet. It deals with the truth that human pride in worldly achievement is very temporary. Shelley's use of an exceptional rhyme scheme and a matching diction sug gest the irony of power on earth. Shelley's presentation of the hard truth implies his dislike for the despotic rulers.

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