With its heavy irony and iconic line, "Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" "Ozymandias" is just one of the most famous poems of the Romantic era.

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the was composed by Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1817 and eventually came to be his most famed work. The poem describes the half-buried remnants of a statue of Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II and also contrasts the pharaoh"s proud words v his damaged likeness.

In this guide, we provide the background on just how "Ozymandias" to be created, define the key Ozymandias meaning, and discuss the poetic devices used in this poem. By the end of this article, you"ll have a finish understanding the "Ozymandias."

Ozymandias Poem: complete Text

Below is the complete text the Percy Bysshe Shelley"s poem "Ozymandias."

I met a traveller indigenous an antique land,
Who said—"Two large and trunkless foot of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Close to them, on the sand,
Half sunk a wrong visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and also sneer the cold command,
Tell the its sculptor fine those passions read
Which however survive, stamped on this lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And ~ above the pedestal, this words appear:
‘My surname is Ozymandias, King that Kings;
Look on mine Works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Ring the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and also bare
The lone and level sands stretch much away."

How was "Ozymandias" Created?

There room actually 2 Ozymandias poems, and also they were composed as component of a friendly writing competition. The poet Horace Smith spent the end of 1817 v Percy Shelley and also his wife mar Shelley (the writer of Frankenstein). Throughout this time, Percy Shelley and also Smith challenged each other to a poetry competition. The Shelleys moved in literature circles, and they and also their friends would often difficulty each other to creating competitions, for this reason this wasn"t anything the end of the ordinary.

For this competition, Shelley and also Smith wrote around the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II ("Ozymandias" is the Greek name for Ramesses II). Previously in 1817, it to be announced that archaeologists had uncovered the remains of a statue of Ramesses II and were sending out the pieces to the brothers Museum. This may have been the incentive behind the design template of the competition. Ancient Egypt in basic was also very much in vogue amongst the British upper classes, and also many of Shelley"s contemporaries took a good interest in the duration and any brand-new archaeological explorations in Egypt.

In composing his poem, Shelley was extremely influenced by ancient Greek writings on Egypt, specifically those the a chronicler named Diodorus Siculus. In his Bibliotheca historica, Diodorus claims that the complying with phrase was inscribed at the basic of a statue of Ramesses II: "King of emperors Ozymandias to be I. If any want to know how great I am and where ns lie, let that outdo me in mine work." Diodorus is the "traveler indigenous an antique land" Shelley refers to in the poem"s opened line.

Shelley"s poem was released under the pen surname "Glirastes" on January 11, 1818, in the weekly file The Examiner. (Smith"s poem was released in the same document several mainly later). Shelley later republished the city in 1819 in his collection Rosalind and also Helen. Although the didn"t receive lot attention when it was published, "Ozymandias" eventually became Shelley"s most popular work, and the phrase "look on my works, ye mighty, and also despair" is frequently referenced in well-known culture.

What Is the meaning Behind "Ozymandias"?

What message was Shelley trying to convey through the city Ozymandias? The major theme behind "Ozymandias" is that all strength is temporary, no matter how prideful or tyrannical a leader is.

Ramesses II was one of the old world"s most powerful rulers. He reigned together pharaoh for 66 years, led the Egyptians to numerous military victories, constructed massive monuments and also temples, and accumulated large stores that wealth. That eventually came to be known as Ramesses the an excellent and was revered because that centuries after his death.

Throughout the poem, Ramesses" proud is evident, native the boastful inscription where he declares himself a "king of kings" come the "sneer the cold command" ~ above his statue. However, "Ozymandias" provides it clear the every person, also the most an effective person in the land, will ultimately be carried low, their name almost forgotten and monuments to your power ending up being buried in the sand.

Although the poem just discusses Ozymandias, it suggests that all rulers, dynasties, and political energy will at some point crumble together well, together nothing deserve to withstand time forever. At the moment the city was written, Napoleon had recently fallen indigenous power and also was living in exile, after years of ruling and also invading lot of Europe. His fate is no unlike Ozymandias". As soon as Ozymandias assignment "Look on mine works, ye mighty, and also despair!" he meant to cause his rivals despair end his significant power, but he may have only brought about them despair as soon as they realized their ignominious end was as inevitable as his.


The collapse statue of Ramesses II in Luxor, Egypt the Shelley is said to have actually based his city on

What Poetic tools Does "Ozymandias" Include?

For a relatively short poem, "Ozymandias" is complete of poetic devices. A poetic machine is a linguistic tool that a poet have the right to use to assist convey their message, and make the poem an ext interesting to review or hear. In this section we discuss the crucial poetic devices in the Ozymandias poem.


"Ozymandias" is a sonnet, i m sorry is a kind of poetic structure. All sonnets, consisting of "Ozymandias" room fourteen currently long and also written in iambic pentameter. The iambic pentameter sounds an ext natural than countless other rhythms, however it still has a purposeful sufficient rhythm to easily identify it from regular speech (even in the 1800s nobody would normally speak the method "Ozymandias" was written).

Contrary to countless other sonnets though, "Ozymandias" has actually an inexplicable rhyming scheme, following the pattern ABABA CDCEDEFE. Most sonnets follow the rhyme system ABBAABBA and CDECDE or CDCDCD.

Sonnets have been a conventional poetry format for a long time—Shakespeare famously wrote sonnets—and the would have been an obvious selection for Shelley and also Smith to use for their competition since sonnets have a set structure but still permit the poet a great deal of freedom within the structure.


Alliteration is the repeat of a sound or letter at the start of multiple words in a sentence or paragraph. There are number of instances that alliteration in "Ozymandias" including the phrases "cold command" and also " boundless and also bare."

The repeat in alliteration frequently makes a poem sound an ext interesting and pleasant, and also it can additionally create a soothing rhythm in comparison to the tension resulted in by enjambment (see below).


An apostrophe is a poetic maker where the writer addresses an exclamation come a human being or thing that isn"t present. In "Ozymandias" the apostrophe occurs in the engraving on the statue"s pedestal: "Look on mine Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" This isn"t being talked to anyone in particular, simply whoever happens to come throughout the statue.

Apostrophe was particularly common in older develops of poetry, going all the means back to ancient Greece. Due to the fact that Shelley was using an old Greek message as incentive for his poem, that may have wanted to encompass poetic tools from that time period as well.


Assonance is the repetition of vowel or diphthong sounds in one or an ext words uncovered close together. It wake up in the phrase "Half sunk a wrong visage lies." The brief "a" sound in "half" and "shattered" is repeated. The "a" sound is actually repeated throughout the poem, in words like "traveller," "antique," "vast," and even "Ozymandias" himself. Favor alliteration, assonance can be provided to make a poem an ext interesting and enjoyable to listen to.


Enjambment is the continuation of a sentence beyond a line break, couplet, or stanza there is no an meant pause.

In "Ozymandias" over there are many examples of enjambment, including "Who said—"Two huge and trunkless legs of stone/Stand in the desert. . . . Close to them, top top the sand," and "Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and also bare" In both examples, the heat break wake up in the middle of a sentence.

Enjambment is a method for the poet come build action and tension within a poem. The tension comes from the reality that the poet"s thought isn"t finished at the finish of a sentence. Every line v enjambment is a mini-cliffhanger, which makes the reader want to keep reading to learn what wake up next. Enjambment can additionally create drama, specifically when the complying with line isn"t what the reader expected it to be.


Irony is once tone or exaggeration is offered to convey a meaning opposite to what"s being literally said. The Ozymandias an interpretation is complete of irony. In the poem, Shelley contrasts Ozymandias" boastful words of strength in with the image of his destroyed statue lied broken and forgotten in the sand. Ozymandias might have been an effective when that ordered those indigenous written, however that power is now long gone, and his boasts now seem slightly silly in the present time.


What"s Next?

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