In their quest to stand out among many other colleagues, poets normally design their own presentation styles and stick to them. These unique styles are associated with them whenever they arise. Shelley, being among the all time authors of her time, could not afford being a different poet. She employed total complexity in her poems and she most often than not followed a specific pattern through her writing. Ozymandias was no exemption. The idea behind the poem is unveiled in the two different scenes that the persona describes. The first incident is highlighted in the first stanza; in the first meeting between the traveler and the narrator (I met a traveler from an antique land).
The persona mentions his second meeting, which occurs around some diminishing statue of an ancient Egyptian king. The king is referred to as Ozimandias, in the ancient of days they were also called Pharaohs. This statue is located at the heart of a very old Egyptian city, located some four hundred and twenty miles to the south of their ancient capital, and called Thebes. The parameters of the city were bordered by a river to the eastern side, the only one that served the city while to the western side it was bordered by a huge field where they put to rest there dead.
They referred to this place as the city of the dead. It is in this place that the pharaoh’s kept their most valued assets like statues. The religious points served to keep the king’s souvenirs that reminded the people of their king’s achievements and accolades. This part of the kingdom was not deserted as such. Religious leaders and priests also lived in this place and would time after time offer divine help to the people who needed it. The other group of people who lived around this place was the caretakers of the place (Casey, 12). This group consisted of the designers and laborers who built and keep the monuments in top condition. In the poem, there are four distinct characters at play.
The poet take sup the role of the persona in the first line. He speaks what the traveler said and relates to it in the first person perspective. This is evident when he explains to the reader what the traveler said. The other character in the poem is the traveler. This is the person who tells the story of the ancient land.
He also comes from an ancient land, according to the narrator. The main character in the play is the king, he’s also called Ozymandia. His fame and rule had spread all over. According to ancient history, his birth was around the year 1314 B.C; he lived through the nineteenth dynasty and ruled Egypt for sixty six years (Julian, 164).
Nobody was sue about his exact age at his time of death, but people around him through his life approximate that he lived for between ninety to ninety nine years. He was one king who led his army to war; he was also progressive in that he put up many temples and monuments reminiscent of a prosperous kingdom. Ozymandia happened to be the King when the Biblical Mosses moved the Israelites out of Egypt, according to the holy book. The last character is the person who created and designed the sculpture that embodies the image of the king. He ends up being the witty character as his works live through time to pass on the message to the generations that come after them (Casey, 84). According to the persona, the sculpture that carries the image of the king was initially fifty seven feet tall, but has bowed down to the test of time.
Traditionally, it was a statement of his achievements which included the many temples and monuments he had erected during his time. On the sculpture was the inscription “I am Ozymandias, king of kings.” This was meant to make his subjects to perceive and rank him above the other kings they had ever had. It was also meant to dare other kings to try to beat his achievements while he was the king of Egypt. It could also be looked at as his own way of fulfilling the need to stay in people’s memories to come. The people would remember him, whenever they looked at the statue of his portrait (Casey, 110).
This poem, like many others before and after it, had meaning and message that was relevant to the specific time in history. The message passed on by this poem is that power and chiefdom of a king are as fleeting, and that only quality work of art endures. The sculpture was sinking low into the desert sand, it had been worn out so badly that it was hardly recognizable, as in unless one knew exactly the tale behind the sculpture he would not tell from which king it was or what it was representative of. The statute was symbolic, it was representative of the of the pharaoh’s glory and might which is fading away. The proud face of the sculpture is still intact, a demonstration of the sculptors aptitude to interpret and capture his king’s emotions. The irony in the whole situation is the fact that the artist conveys the most sensible message; “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” (Cummings, 49). This is a mockery to the king, who happens to be the almighty in the kingdom. The sculptor ends up being the smarter, having indicted the king’s pride.
Shelley lived trough a time when there was total criticism of the British government when it was being ruled by King George the third. She and her fellow countrymen hated the way government business was run, through oppression. Britain was then a monarchial state and she did not like it, instead her opinion was one that there could be a revolution to bring the much needed change the people yearned for.
She drew inspiration from the works of other writers such as Thomas Payne, who wrote two books that catapulted the force behind the American Revolution. These books were “common sense” and “crisis.” She asserts that rotting of the government systems was the resultant catastrophe, and that Britain is not exempted from this if does not change the systems at place (Cummings, 19).
Casey, D. Poetry review guide for teachers and students.
NY: New York. Oxford university press. (2002). Cummings, Michael.
”Ozymandias, study and review guide.”http://www.cummingsstudyguides.
net/Guides3/Ozymandias.html (2006) Julian, D., Mason, J., Wheatley, P. Poetic review and analysis for scholars. London: MacMillan publishers limited (2004).