Poetic Structure in Ozymandias

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Despite the vast differences between the many cultures that make up the world’s population, certain key characteristics, some good and some bad, have shown themselves in every civilization, regardless of time or location. One negative characteristic that has repeatedly made an appearance in the world’s history is man’s desire for power. In the sonnet “Ozymandias”, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, power, which humans consistently fight over and which is also the cause of arrogance in many, is shown as insignificant through the description of a statue’s ruins. The statue is of an ancient ruler, Ozymandias, and throughout the poem he is characterized as powerful, yet arrogant because of his power. Shelley mocks the once great and feared Ozymandias, who is now little known and whose empire has decayed over time. Percy Shelley has utilized the poetic form of “Ozymandias” and the structure of each line, including punctuation, word placement, and quotes, to contribute to the description of the statue and its setting, which in turn supports the central idea that the power of man and all man made creations are insignificant against the passage of time. In “Ozymandias”, Shelley shows the unimportance of human power as time goes on by describing a statue, which depicts a once powerful man, that now lies in ruins. The poem begins with “I met a traveler from an antique land / Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone / Stand in the desert…” (1-3). The ambiguity of who told the speaker of the statue and where the statue is located alludes to the unimportance of the once great and powerful man whom the sculpture represents. If the location of the decaying art piece was made more clear , it would imply that the man’s power had survived the pass... ... middle of paper ... ...10), was not spared by the passage of time. This central theme is well supported through the poetic structure of the poem. The way each line is structured changes how it is read, and in poetry the way a line is read can be just as significant as the words that make up the line. There is meaning tied to many of the small details in this poem’s structure, which includes the punctuation, the use of alliteration, and the placement of the different components throughout. The poetic form of “Ozymandias” has been put to use in order to aid in the description of the statue and the setting, and this description aides in supporting the central message of time’s destructiveness against human power and creation. Works Cited Ferguson, Margaret W., Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy. ""Ozymandias"" The Norton Anthology of Poetry. 5th ed. New York: Norton &, 2005. 870+. Print.

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