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Summary of ozymandias

Asked by Katha Patel(student) , on 6/2/12

EXPERT ANSWER

Ozymandias, the most outstanding political sonnet written by P.B. Shelley throws light on the power of time. Nothing can beat the time. It treats everyone equally whether rich or poor, king or beggar.

The poem is an account of the meeting and conversation between the poet and the narrator. The narrator had just returned from an antique and unique land. The poem begins with the traveller telling the poet that he had seen a vast but ruined statue, where stood two giant legs, isolated in the desert. The face was sunk in the sand, frowning and sneering. The sculptor interpreted his subject well. There also was a pedestal at the statue, where the traveller noticed that the statue read “Ozymandias, King of Kings.” Through the note written on pedestal, the traveller came to know that he was a powerful king named Ozymandias who could not face the powers of time. His strength, works or ego - nothing had remained. He had been perished by the storm of time and was now standing trunk-lessin vast desert. The expressions noticed by the traveller were those of frown and ignorant pride. It could well be understood that the ruler was tyrannous. 

The poem conveys the message that man is mortal. He might be proud of his powers but the reality is far more cruel that everything comes to an end as the time keeps on moving and changing. Immortality is the fact concerned with views, time, poetry and goodness only. Thus, Shelley points out very well the power of time. He says that how much ever the emperor might be cruel and powerful in his own time, the race with time can never be won. 

Finally, we cannot miss the general comment on human vanity in the poem. It is not just the “mighty” who desire to withstand time; it is common for people to seek immortality and to resist death and decay. Furthermore, the sculptor himself gets attention and praise that used to be deserved by the king, for all that Ozymandias achieved has now “decayed” into almost nothing, while the sculpture has lasted long enough to make it into poetry. In a way, the artist has become more powerful than the king. The only things that “survive” are the artist’s records of the king’s passion, carved into the stone. 

Perhaps Shelley chose the medium of poetry in order to create something more powerful and lasting than what politics could achieve, all the while understanding that words too will eventually pass away. Unlike many of his poems, “Ozymandias” does not end on a note of hope. There is no extra stanza or concluding couplet to honour the fleeting joys of knowledge or to hope in human progress. Instead, the traveller has nothing more to say, and the persona draws no conclusions of his own.


 

Posted by Amrita Hazra(MeritNation Expert)on 7/2/12

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Ozymandias Summary

The speaker describes a meeting with someone who has traveled to a place where ancient civilizations once existed. We know from the title that he’s talking about Egypt. The traveler told the speaker a story about an old, fragmented statue in the middle of the desert. The statue is broken apart, but you can still make out the face of a person. The face looks stern and powerful, like a ruler. The sculptor did a good job at expressing the ruler’s personality. The ruler was a wicked guy, but he took care of his people.

On the pedestal near the face, the traveler reads an inscription in which the ruler Ozymandias tells anyone who might happen to pass by, basically, “Look around and see how awesome I am!” But there is no other evidence of his awesomeness in the vicinity of his giant, broken statue. There is just a lot of sand, as far as the eye can see. The traveler ends his story.

Posted by Meghali Garg(student)on 6/2/12

The speaker describes a meeting with someone who has traveled to a place where ancient civilizations once      existed. We know from the title that he’s talking about Egypt. The traveler told the speaker a story about an      old, fragmented statue in the middle of the desert. The statue is broken apart, but you can still make out the      face of a person. The face looks stern and powerful, like a ruler. The sculptor did a good job at expressing        the ruler’s personality. The ruler was a wicked guy, but he took care of his people.

On the pedestal near the face, the traveler reads an inscription in which the ruler Ozymandias tells anyone who might happen to pass by, basically, “Look around and see how awesome I am!” But there is no other evidence of his awesomeness in the vicinity of his giant, broken statue. There is just a lot of sand, as far as the eye can see. The traveler ends his story.

Posted by Penny(student)on 6/2/12

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