Kings of Power: Ozymandias vs. Viva la Vida

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When comparing and contrasting “Ozymandias”, written by Percy Bysshe Shelley and “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay, there is a strong contrast between the two. Ozymandias is a poem about a long-forgotten king who once had mighty power over his people, where as “Viva La Vida” is about a king who was overthrown. However, the similarities between the song and poem are astonishing. “Ozymandias” is similar to “Viva La Vida”because both texts mention a rockpile built upon sand for a king; because both texts show that the citizens are enemies of the king; and because they are both about a king who has lost his power. “Ozymandias” is similar to “Viva La Vida” because they both mention a rockpile built upon sand for a king. For example, in “Ozymandias”, the traveler said, “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone /Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, /Half sunk, a shattered visage lies” (2-4). This means that the visage, or face, is built on unlevel ground: sand. In “Viva La VIda”, the singer mentions, “ [He] discovered that his castles stand/ Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand” ( 3, 3-4), meaning that the king’s castle is built upon sand; an unsturdy foundation for a castle. Both the visage and the castle are built on unsteady grounds of sand. Therefore, Ozymandias” and “Viva La Vida” are similar because they both mention rockpiles built on sand for a king. “Ozymandias” is similar to “Viva La Vida” because both the song and poem are about a king who was once hated by his own people. For example, in “Ozymandias”, the traveler speaking to the main character of the poem says, “ Tell that its sculptor well those passions read/ Which yet survive, stamped on [the stone monuments]/ The hand that mocked them”( 7-8), meaning that the sculptor of the king’s monument has ridiculed the king’s passions; the sculptor disapproves of the king and is then considered an enemy of the king. In the song “Viva La Vida”, the singer states, “ Revolutionaries wait/ for my head on a silver plate”( 7, 1-2), which means that the exiled king is wanted dead from his own previous citizens — this then proves that his citizens are his enemies. Therefore, because the king in “Ozymandias” is mocked and is disapproved by his sculptor, and because the king in “Viva La Vida” is being hunted down by his own people, both the song and poem are considered as similar texts.

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