'Ozymandias' - Key Quotations

"sneer of cold command"

CONTEXT:

Shows the disrespect and lack of care that Ozymandias had towards his people.

THEMES:

Arrogance; Careless; Disrespectful

LANGUAGE:

Harsh sounds = shows aggressive nature. He didn't care for his people. They were insignificant to him.

"look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

CONTEXT:

Another example of Ozymandias' arrogance. He believes he is above everybody.

THEMES:

Importance; Power; Arrogance

LANGUAGE:

Irony = power is nothing. He thought he was important, but all that lives on is the story of him. Everything else has forgotten him.

 

STRUCTURE:

Exclamation mark = the exclamation mark emphasises the authoritative tone, and yet it is still ironic because nobody is around to hear it.

"The hand that mocked them"

CONTEXT:

The "hand" could refer to the hand of the statue.

THEMES:

Power; Memory; Importance

LANGUAGE:

Irony = Ozymandias' hand once mocked his people, and now a broken part of a statue is all that remains. His great power has been reduced to body parts.

Irony = He once "mocked" his people, and now history itself is mocking him.

Distant pronoun = "them" shows that he thought of himself as different and separate to his people.

"Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck"

CONTEXT:

The speaker describes the state of what remains of the statue.

THEMES:

Power; History

LANGUAGE:

Noun = "decay" suggests that the statue is in the process of falling apart, and that it has been for some time. Furthermore, it implies that eventually the entire structure will be destroyed - perhaps just like the memory of Ozymandias and his power?

Metaphor = "colossal wreck" again points to the fact that all Ozymandias once was, and the power he once had, has been reduced to a statue that is broken and fading with time. This wreck is a metaphor of his own pride and ego.

"trunkless"

"shattered"

"despair"

"decay"

"bare"

"wreck"

CONTEXT:

These words are scattered about the poem to describe both the statue and Ozymandias' reign.

THEMES:

Negativity; Fear; Damaged

LANGUAGE:

It's possible that these terms could be literal descriptions of the statue. However, it could also represent how Ozymandias' people felt during his reign.

In addition, they could be references to how power never lasts.

"I met a traveller from an antique land"

CONTEXT:

The opening line of the poem. We are introduced to the speaker, who narrates in the first-person.

THEMES:

History; Old-fashioned

LANGUAGE:

Adjective = "antique" suggests the place that the traveller comes from is full of history, but also that it may be old and out of date, potentially even forgotten about.

"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone"

CONTEXT:

The speaker recounts when the traveller began to describe the statue of Ozymandias.

THEMES:

Damage; Neglect

LANGUAGE:

Adjective = "trunkless" means 'without a torso', so all that remains of the statue are two giant legs. Everything else has been ruined due to the passage of time and the fact that nobody has been around to maintain it.

"The lone and level sands stretch far away."

CONTEXT:

The final line of the poem, as the speaker recounts the last bit of description from the traveller.

THEMES:

Nature; Power; Time

LANGUAGE:

Juxtaposition = the 'lone and level sands' last longer than the statue, which represents ego and arrogance. It is a reminder that nature will outlast any power or control that comes from humanity.