Legacies in Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley and When I Consider How My Light Is Spent by John Milto

Legacies in Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley and When I Consider How My Light Is Spent by John Milto

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The Petrarchan sonnets “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley and “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” by John Milton both consider a man’s legacy after death. However, both poems talk about a man’s legacy from very different perspective and come to their own conclusions. In “Ozymandias”, a traveler describes a broken statue of King Ozymandias (the Greek name for the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II) and the barren ruins surrounding the statue. Ozymandias believes that his legacy will last forever. Through the sonnet, Shelley implies that legacies are transient and even the most powerful of men fall in the face of time. “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” is about the internal reflection of the speaker on his legacy as he worries whether or not God would approve of it. The poem comes to the conclusion that a man does not need to have an impressive legacy to be a good servant to God. They need only be willing to serve God to make him happy. Clearly these poems, while both contemplating a man’s legacy, show different ways of how a man can feel about his legacy (arrogance or anxiety). However in the end both poems conclude that a legacy, in the end, is of little importance.
Both poems show two different ways that someone can think about their legacy. In Shelley’s “Ozymandias”, Ozymandias is arrogant about his legacy assuming that, not only will it last forever, but that it will strike awe into future onlookers. This impression is mainly given by the quotation marks around the inscription on the statue as it implies that these are the words of the Pharaoh. By calling himself the “king of kings” (Shelley, 10) you get a sense of his enormous pride because being the king of kings is as high as you can go on the social hierarchy scale. Hi...


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...tion until God needs them. Milton comes to the conclusion that God does not care whether you come to him with a legacy or not. He only wishes that his servants are willing to serve him.
In conclusion, “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley and “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” by John Milton both contemplate the importance of legacy and come to the conclusion that when it’s all said and done, a legacy does not matter. Both use multiple voices and other literary techniques to enhance and highlight their ideas. However, the two sonnets have different reasons for their conclusion. For Shelley, it is because with time a legacy fades to nothing, Milton, on the other hand, believes that a legacy is not important to God and therefore is not important to him.



Works Cited

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/guide/238972
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174016

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