Hi friends, today we are going to learn the
poem Ozymandias, which is there in the syllabus of class 10 CBSE. I am going to explain it
to you line by line and I shall also illustrate what the poem stands for, so that you get
full marks in your exams on this topic. let’s begin. So this is a snap right out of your textbook.
You are supposed to look at the picture and form your opinion about it, before we come
to the main poem. And this is the whole poem. This poem was
written by Percy Bysshe Shelley, of England . It got published in the year 1818 and it
is in the form of a sonnet, that is a poem of 14 lines. I met a traveller from an antique land
The poet starts the narrative that he met a traveller from an antique land, the word
antique means old or ancient. The rest of this poem is from the viewpoint
of the traveler. This point is clear from the second line which begins with ‘who said’.
The traveler said. The traveler is giving the whole description here in the form of
the rest of the poem. Two vast and trunkless1 legs of stone
Stand in the desert. This line means that two very huge or we can say extremely large
legs made of stone stand in the desert. They are trunkless, meaning the upper body is missing.
Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage2 lies,
So, beside those legs there lies a half sunk face (sunk means it is partially inside the
sand). Visage means face and it is shattered meaning small pieces are missing from the
face. The next line describes the expression on
the face. whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer3 of cold command These lines say that the face has a frown
on it. Look at the smiley on your screen to understand this expression. Frown is a facial
expression when one furrows his brows. Frown, along with a wrinkled lip, and a sneer. Now,
When one has a “sneer” it means that one has a low opinion of or little care for the
other at whom the sneer is directed. It is an expression of scorn or contempt or hostility
for others. … To emphasize the “sneer,” the poet uses the description “cold command”
which implies an uncaring, dominating nature full of arrogance.
The poet is slowly building the description of the person who is the subject of this statue.
We can infer that the expressions on the face – point to the fact that he was a king or
some kind of dictator who held a command or control over others.
6th line reads: Tell that its sculptor well those passions read4.
Means the sculptor of that statue or the one who carved that huge, now broken, statue,
could very well read and was fully aware of the passions or expressions on the face, that’s
how the sculptor could carve them so accurately. Which yet survive, stamped5 on these lifeless
things, The line means that the memory of these expressions
or emotions is stamped on the stone face and still survives or exists on the lifeless statue,
even though both the sculptor and his subject are now dead.
Next line: The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed… this line is a tricky
one so we have to read it in context of the line that immediately goes before it. We were
talking about the expressions on the face which depicted scorn and contempt. Now the
current line says that these expressions tell us about the sculptor of the face – the
hand that mocked them means the hands of the sculptor that copied these expressions onto
the stone face, or it could even mean that the hands of the sculptor made fun of the
expressions by carving them exactly on the face.
The word mock has two meanings, you see…. And, well, the heart that fed… the heart
here refers to the heart of the emperor which fed on such emotions of superiority and arrogance,
of ruling it’s subjects with a cold command – the emotions which the sculptor could
clearly see through and mock on the stone face through his hands… And on the pedestal these words appear:
The word pedestal means the base of a statue. On the base of this now broken statue, the
following words were engraved. “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” This is an introduction to the emperor whose
statue it was, and what he thought of himself. So, first of all, that statue is of Ozymandias.
he calls himself the “king of kings” this inscription suggests that Ozymandias is
arrogant, or at least that he has grand ideas about his own power
He further boasts about his works, but we know that now only two huge legs and the shattered
face of what once must have been a statue remain. The so called works have been destroyed
over time, so these words of Ozymandias are ironic…. They speak of something whereas
the reality is quite different. Also, he uses the word mighty, this line is
addressed to the powerful people of his times and times to come, and Ozymandias tells such
people who look at his figure to despair which means to lose hope. Ozymandias’s statue was
intended to project his greatness so he advises any mighty ruler to despair, because according
to Ozymandias, they can’t surpass his glory and power.
The last lines of the poem are: Nothing beside6 remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, These lines mean that nothing else is left,
only the broken parts of the colossal or very huge statue which is now a complete wreck.
The word wreck means that statue or structure has been destroyed and severely damaged.
boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Which means as far as eyes can see, there are the lonely sands surrounding this huge
wreck – sands which are boundless or we can say limitless and bare- meaning without
much habitation. This means the statue lies in a desert wasteland.
This poem is a powerful statement about the insignificance of human beings to the passage
of time. Ozymandias is also a metaphor to the ephemeral or short-lived nature of political
power. Incase you want to understand some common figures of speech like simile, metaphor,
irony etc., do watch my videos on figures on speech. On my channel, They are very popular
among High school students. Here is something you need to know about the
poet. The son of a Rich Tory Squire, Percy Bysshe
Shelley was educated at Eton and then sent to Oxford. Shelley came under the influence
of revolutionary ideas of the English philosopher, William Godwin, whose daughter, Mary Godwin
he ultimately married. In 1818, Shelley left for Italy; he drowned in the Bay of Spezia
in 1822. That brings us to the end of this video, hope
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