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Ozymandias sounds like a pretentious jerk,

posted Jan 17, 2011 17:38:18 by kelkleine
but whatever he did apparently lives on to be appreciated.

The poem "Ozymandias" by Percy Shelley speaks of some sculpture or statue, in some distant forgotten land ("antique" (1)), of a man named Ozymandias. The words tell a story of a supposedly great man, "king of kings," (10) and his piece of art that either he made or otherwise serves to represent him, as they now lie old and lonely in a vast, empty desert. However, the traveler mentioned in the first line and the poem writer himself show that this relic of this once-great man is still acknowledged, and that the memory or essence of this work of art and the man it relates to live on, even as his glory is gone and his statue lies "half sunk" and "shattered" (4).

Ozymandias, who expects "ye mighty" (11) to despair when they look upon his works, finds himself nearly eternally preserved as travelers, poets, or other lovers of art and the world come across what remains of his legacy and pass on the experience. In this sense, the poem indeed illustrates an interest in the world, and appreciation for someone who may be a hero, and a love for art.
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2 replies
kelkleine said Jan 18, 2011 01:36:49
A pretentious jerk, eh? You make a good point that "this once-great man is still acknowledged." Should this poem be seen as a cautionary tale? During the time that Shelley wrote this in 1818, the British empire was still expanding...Is this poem only about the ancient land, the Britain at the time it was written, or power in general?
Seancorc said Jan 18, 2011 16:14:20
I think it could definitely be seen as a cautionary tale, if not a simple fact of life, that all great kingdoms or people eventually fall. In this sense it's really more about power in general, but it also certainly applies to the British empire. It's also pretty important to note that the poem still expresses that monuments and memories of this "lost" greatness still stand, so it might stand for both a sense of impending doom for all things powerful and simultaneously showing how a footnote of the greatness still stands, even if it's sad and empty.
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