Ozymandias Stanza Wise and Line by Line Explanation Hindi and English

Ozymandias Poem Explanation includes line by line stanza explanations with meanings. Poetic devices are also given Explanation is given in Hindi and English.

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About the Poet

The poem is a sonnet written by Percy Bysshe Shelly, an English poet. It was first published in 1818 in The Examiner of London under Shelley’s pen name, “Gilrastes.”. Percy Bysshe Shelly was educated at Eton and then sent to Oxford. Shelly came under the influence of revolutionary ideas of the English philosopher Willaim Godwin, whose daughter, Mary Godwin he ultimately married. In 1818, Shelly left for Italy; he drowned in the Bay of Spezia in 1822.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose literary career was marked with controversy due to his views on religion, atheism, socialism, and free love, is known as a talented lyrical poet and one of the major figures of English romanticism.

Poem: Ozymandias

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.”

There is an interesting story behind the composition of the poem. It was written as part of contest and so there are two poems on the same common theme. One of Shelly and the other of his friend Horace Smith.

In Shelley’s literary cycle, the members would challenge each other to write poems about a common subject. In 1817, Horace Smith spent his Christmas at Shelley’s house. They both a chose passage from Diodorus Siculus’s book Bibliotheca historica that contained the inscription:

King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.

They challenged one another to write a sonnet out of it. In Shelley’s sonnet, the “traveller from an antique land” is the historian Siculus. The poem was published in The Examiner on 11 January 1818. Explore Shelley’s 1817 draft and the published version from The Examiner.

Theme & Message of the Poem ‘Ozymandias’

The poem also utilizes the themes of vainglory, the power of art, the decline of power, etc. Time is all powerful and witness to reveal that the kingdoms do not last; glory dims and fades ultimately but the art survives the ravages of time. Force, power and authority die but the creativity in the form of art lives the time.

The main theme is introduced in the very beginning where Shelley’s speaker describes the “colossal Wreck” of Ozymandias half sunk in the lone desert. The poem stresses on the transience of regal glory and power. The themes of the futility of life, the fate of history, ravages of time are also associated with it.

Ozymandias tried to become greater than God. He declared himself the “King of Kings” but irony is that now his remains are broken and half sun in sand. The might and majesty of king do not last longer and the thing that lasts is the art which keeps the memories alive of its subject. The statue, symbolising the power and glory of the pharaoh, is crumbling. Yet the arrogant sneer on the “shattered visages” remains intact as a proof of the ability of the sculpture to understand and express the passions of his ruler.

In short, we can say that the most important theme is the impermanence of a ruler’s glory and his legacy


Meanings of Ozymandias

WordsMeanings
Sneera proud look, a facial expression of scorn and hostility in which the upper lip may be raised
Readinterpreted
stampedsculpted, chiselled
Antiqueancient, old
DesertSahara Desert with long barren stretch of sand
Visageface
Well……readthe sculptor skilfully interpreted the king’s feelings
Surviveendure, continue to live
Vast big
Sculptora person who makes statues
Mock to ridicule, laugh at
Pedestalthe base of a statue
Despaira feeling of hopelessness
Colossalbig, huge

Stanza Wise Explanation

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,

The narrator meets a traveller from the ancient land which refers to Egypt here. The traveller is talking to the narrator and telling him that there is a huge stone-statue which is now crumbling down. He further elaborates those two huge and massive legs, which were the remaining parts of the once grand statue, are still standing there. The upper part or trunk of the statue is missing as it seems to have crumbled and lost over a period of time. The place is a sandy desert and half covered and the face of the statue lies half sunken in the sand.

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:

The traveller then goes on to describe the expression that still reflected on the face of the statue. Despite the fact that the kingdom had fallen with time and the King’s glory had faded away, the stone face had expressions of arrogance. It had frown, wrinkled up lips, scornful and hostile expression on face which showed an air of pride and arrogance. All this showed his insensitivity disapproval belittling others.

The sculptor of this this statue seemed to know the king’s arrogant nature. The sculptor skilfully interpreted the king’s feelings and emotions on the statue. The king had no respect even for the sculptor whose hands created his statue.

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.”

It was the statue of a ruler of Egypt – the great king Ramesses. He was the great Pharaoh of the 19th dynasty of ancient Egypt. His name was Ozymandias. The remains of the statue stood mounted on a stone-based pedestal.

There was an inscription engraved on it which read as “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair!” This shows the king was full of conceit, self-importance, vanity which thinks of all others as very low Infront of him. these words of his challenge the mighty ones and says if anyone tries to surpass his work or tries to match up to him, the person will only end up in despair and frustration.

The narrator then Shows that despite his boastful inscription everything is conquered by nature and nothing is immortal. The once vast and great kingdom had now disappeared. Nothing is left of the vast kingdom and all that can be seen is sand as far as one can see. The great kingdom and its great king had fallen. The civilisation of his time had turned into a deserted barren wasteland. The point has commented and shown sarcasm that of statement by sewing the insignificance of human beings the passage of time. Nothing is important and everything has to decay time.


Poetic Devices used in ‘Ozymandias’

Rhyme Scheme:

Octave – ABABACDC

Sestet – edefef

Enjambment: Shelley uses this device throughout the text. For example, it occurs in lines 2-8. By enjambing the lines, the poet creates a surprising flow.

Alliteration: It occurs in “aantique,” “stone/ Stand,” “sunk a shattered,” “cold command,” “lone and level”etc.

Metaphor: Thet title itself is a metaphor. It refers to a fragment of Ozymandias’s statue. Furthermore, a metaphor, “colossal Wreck” is used as a reference to Ozymandias.

The “sneer of cold command” contains a metaphor. Here, the ruler’s contempt for his subjugates is compared to the ruthlessness of a military commander.

The poem is an extended metaphor also.

Irony: the opposite what is expected to happen

Shelley uses this device in the following lines, “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!/ Nothing beside remains.” The following lines also contain this device.

The emperor was arrogant for the power and command he had. He boasted of his wealth and glory calling him as ‘King of Kings’ but ironically, none of it is left now. Everything has perished with time. Nothing is immortal.

Synecdoche: (substitution of part to stand for the whole, or the whole to stand for a part)

In the poem, the “hand” and “heart” collectively hint at the pharaoh, Ozymandias, as a whole. It is a use of synecdoche.

Allusion: The line “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings” is an allusion to the actual inscription described in the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus’s Bibliotheca historica.


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