Percy Bysshe Shelley
a romantic poet
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.
Analysis of Ozymandias
The poem begins with a promise of a story or an anecdote. Shelley recalls the "almighty" Ramses II and how time ultimately mocked his narcissism by knocking his sculpture to the ground. He mocks the pharaoh's boastfulness by describing his scowling stone face in the soft sand that spreads for miles without interruption. Through this descriptive detail, Shelley points out that power does not last forever. Shelley juxtaposes the ironic contrast of the ever-powerful ruler, Ozymandias, with the bleak nothingness of the surrounding desert. Shelley uses figurative language to exaggerate the idea of death. He repeats about the death of the sculpture of Ozymandias which parallels to the death of the civilization that it once belonged to.
Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Born in Broadbridge Heath, England in 1792
- Bullied maliciously as a child and often escaped into his imagination
- When he was 18 he declared his radical beliefs such as vegetarianism, political radicalism, and sexual freedom
- At the age of 19, he married a 16-year-old girl named Harriet to save her from committing suicide
- During the pregnancy of their second child, Shelley abandoned Harriet to run off with the daughter of his idol, William Godwin, who was a radical political philosopher
- Shelley became great friends with prolific writers such as Lord Byron, John Keats, and Leigh Hunt
- These friendships inspired many of his great works
- Shelley and Mary moved to Italy for about a year and while they were there, both of their children died of fevers
- In 1818, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein
- On July 8, 1822, Shelley drowned while sailing in his boat
- The press made it appear as an accident, but the evidence of the scene shows hints that he may have been murdered by someone who detested his political beliefs
- His ashes are memorialized in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. "Ozymandias." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/poem/175903>.
"I Believe I Can Fly Lyrics." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbUpPVOEkdA>.