4. OZYMANDIAS (By Percy Bysshe Shelley)
‘Ozymandias’ by P. B. Shelly is a poem of 14 lines which is called a sonnet. It describes the remainders of the Egyptian king Ramses II. The poet describes a meeting with someone who had travelled to a place where ancient civilisation once existed. We know from the title that he is talking about Egypt. The traveler told the poet a story about an old, broken statue in the middle of the desert. The narrator comments that this sculpture was once a symbol of pride and greatness, but now, it is no more than broken stone. The narrator, then, goes on to describe the features of the statue’s face whose ‘frown and wrinkled lips…’ give the impression that the subject was a cold, unforgiving man. Ozymandias considered himself to be the ‘king of kings’ in the same rank as the Gods, he demanded respect from the Gods even. But now ironically, the sculptor’s hand ‘mocked’ him. However, his ‘passions’ have long become ‘lifeless’, and he himself, lies forgotten and licking the sand. He uses negative symbols to describe the statue of Ozymandias —trunkless, sunk and shattered to convey this mood. The statue was broken apart, but you can still make out the face of the person whose statue it was. The face looks powerful, like a ruler. The sculptor, maker of the statue did a good job at expressing the ruler’s personality and his hate for others. On the pedestal near the face, the traveller read an inscription in which the ruler Ozymandias tells that anyone who might pass by, ‘Look around and see how mighty I am!’ But there is no other evidence of his strength in the nearby of his giant and broken statue. There is just a lot of sand, as far as the eyes can see. The conclusion is nothing beside remains.
Literary devices used in the Poem
1. ‘cold command’ 2. boundless and bare 3. sands stretch 4. lone and level
King of kings
Inversion of the Normal Word Order –
Well those passions read (normally, read those passions well)
3. Answer the following questions by ticking the correct options.
(a) The poem is set in ………………..
(i) the wilderness (ii) an ancient land (iii) a palace (iv) a desert
Ans. (a) (ii)
(b) The expression on the face of the statue is one of ………………..
(i) admiration (ii) anger (iii) despair (iv) contempt
Ans. (b) (iv)
(c) This poem throws light on the nature of Ozymandias ………………
(i) cruel (ii) arrogant (iii) boastful (iv) aggressive
Ans. (c) (iv)
(d) The sculptor was able to understand Ozymandias’ …………………
(i) words (ii) expression (iii) feelings (iv) ambition
(e) The tone of the poem is …………………
(i) mocking (ii) nostalgic (iii) gloomy (iv) gloating
Extract Based Questions
Read the extracts below and answer the questions that follow.
1. ‘I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.’
(a) Whom did the poet meet? Where was he coming from?
Ans. The poet met a traveller. He was coming from an ancient land.
(b) Where had the traveller come from?
Ans. The Traveller had come from a land where a civilisation had flourished in ancient times. He is probably referring to Egypt.
(c) What had he seen there?
Ans. The Traveller had seen a huge statue of a king called Ozymandias.
(d) What part of it still stood?
Ans. Only the legs of the statue still stood.
(e) What do you mean by ‘antique’?
2. ‘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.’
(a) What do you understand by ‘Near them’?
Ans. ‘Near them’ refers to the two legs of the statue that were still standing.
(b) What is ‘them’?
Ans. ‘Them’ are the two legs of the statue.
(c) What lies near them?
Ans. The half-shattered face of the statue lies near them.
(d) Whose expression did the sculptor read well?
Ans. The sculptor read the expression on the face of Ozymandias.
(e) What do you mean by ‘visage’?
(f) What sort of expression did the face have? Who read them well?
Ans. The face had a stern expression that of a powerful commander, who must have been very cruel and looked quite arrogant. The sculptor had quite skilfully brought out the feelings of his subject.
3. “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.”
(a) What is the expression on the face of the statue?
Ans. There is an expression of contempt on the face of the statue.
(b) Whose hand mocked the expression?
Ans. The hand of the sculptor mocked the expression.
(c) Whose heart fed the expression?
Ans. The heart of Ozymandias fed the expression.
3. Which yet survive stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
(a) Explain: yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things.
Ans. The expressions the sculptor had carved out remain perpetuated on stone till date.
(b) Whose hands mocked?
Ans. These were the sculptor’s hands that had so deftly carved and highlighted the expressions of disdain, cruelty of an arrogant king.
(c) What do you mean by ‘stamped’?
Ans. Here it means ‘carved’.
4. ‘Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’
(a) What does the poet mean when he says that ‘Nothing beside remains’?
Ans. The poet implies that nothing else has survived except for the broken statue.
(b) What does the poet mean by ‘colossal wreck’?
Ans. The poet means the huge statue of Ozymandias.
(c) What literary device does the poet use in the last line?
Ans. The poet uses the device of synecdoche.
(d) Explain the last line.
Ans. The ravages of time had wiped every trace of the mighty kingdom of the mightiest of all rulers. Now only vast expanse of desert land was there.
5. ‘And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
(a) Where are these words carved, ‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair’?
Ans. On the pedestal of the statue, there were words, a small introduction and a message for all, carved
(b) To whom is Ozymandias referring when he speaks of ‘ye Mighty’?
Ans. Ozymandias is referring to the people who pass by and see the statue.
(c) Why should Ozymandias refer to himself as ‘King of Kings’?
Ans. Ozymandias considered himself very powerful.
(d) What was the name of the king?
(e) What do you mean by ‘despair’?
Ans- It means be disappointed.
Short Answers Type Questions
1. Comment on the irony of the pharaoh’s words, ‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Ans. This quote means that no one will ever be able to overcome this work. One might even conclude from this that Ozymandias would even challenge God himself. The irony in this is that all that remains of the mighty Ozymandias is this broken statue, and that this statue, which was intended to create fear, is now only licking the dust.
2. Briefly describe the statue of Ozymandias.
Ans. The statue is big in size. Two legs without upper body of the statue of Ozymandias are still standing on a pedestal. The half-broken face is lying shattered near the legs, half buried in the sand. There is an inscription on the pedestal that says, ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
3. Describe the look on the face of the statue.
Ans. The expression on the face of the statue was that of hate . It seemed as if the king was looking upon everyone with contempt.
2. What was written on the pedestal of the statue of Ozymandias?
Ans. The followings words were stated on the pedestal of the statue. “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look upon my works, ye mighty and despair.”
Long Answers Type Questions
1. Bring out the irony in the poem.
Ans. The traveller sees the half-broken statue of Ozymandias which tells quite a different tale than that which Ozymandias had hoped it would be . Ozymandias got the statue erected thinking that it would represent enduring power, but only a broken heap of stones ravaged by time remains. The face of the statue is ‘shattered,’ and it no longer commands anyone or anything.
2. Write a brief character sketch of Ozymandias.
Ans. He was a powerful ruler who wanted the pomp and show of his power. He was proud of his power and hated the people in common. The inscription on the pedestal said ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ The expression on the face of the statue was that of a sneering contempt. He was living a life of fake and cruelty.
3. As the traveller, write a diary entry about what you saw in the ancient land where you had gone on a visit.
Date- Nov.25, 2016 Time- 11.30 pm
I travelled to a place where ancient civilisation once existed. I saw an old, fragmented statue in the middle of the desert, which had a face of a person. The face looked stern and powerful, liken that a ruler. The sculptor did a good job at expressing the ruler’s personality which consisted of disdain and contempt for others. The irony of the situation is reflected in the writing on the pedestal which said: ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ No other evidence of his strength except this giant, broken statue, could survive the ravages of time. This incident reminds one of man’s mortality and how all his pride gets destroyed while only art remains.
4. As the sculptor, write a diary entry about the statue of Ozymandias you created.
Date- Nov.25, 2016 Time- 11.30 pm
Ozymandias commissioned me to create his statue. He was an arrogant ruler. Every time I look at him, I see disdain and contempt for others. He was a powerful ruler who wanted the pomp and show of his power. He was proud of his power and hated the people in common. He wants me to carve on the pedestal ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’ I wonder, will my art survive?
5. The proud Ozymandias lies forgotten in the desert. Comment.
Ans. Ozymandias used to call himself the `king of kings’ and boast of his works of art like the statue, pyramids. He used to think that he would be remembered for eternity. He achieved, both politically and artistically hisgh position but all was short lived. The statue is a symbol of Ozymandias’s ambition, pride, and absolute power. The value derived from the poem is that kingdoms and political regimes will eventually crumble, leaving no trace of their existence.
6. While on a sight-seeing tour to an old and mysterious country far away from home, you saw this statue. Discuss with your partner what this picture tells you about the people, the place and the ruler. Note down your ideas in the web-chart.
Re site: broken, face s . My Impressions TneNsmaslhaven The people:
Ans. My impressions:
(a) The place: vast expanse of sandy, desert land in the wilderness ruins of a vast empire.
(b) The statue: broken, face is lying on the ground, near two trunkless legs like huge pillars, standing on a pedestal, must have been the statue of the then ruler.
(c) The ruler: must have been a very arrogant king—cruel expression of the face suggests he had a ruthless, feelingless heart. The sculptor very well carved out the expressions on stone—very clearly conveyed what sort of man the king was.
(d) The people: must have been very awestruck and afraid of the king, might be impressed by his conquests.
2. Write a letter to your friend about the sight you saw and your impression of it.
Ans. 16, Bullock Street
20th July, 1970
How are you? I want to share with you an experience. I had recently got a chance to visit the desert land in a foreign country. There I saw amid vast sandy expanse, the ruins of a vast kingdom of past times. Two huge pillar-like legs were standing on a pedestal. Near by broken face of the statue was lying, half-sunk in sand. The expressions, very skilfully carved by its sculptor conveyed he must have been a very cruel, arrogant and powerful king of his times. His ‘presence must have been quite awe-inspiring. ‘there was also a message carved out in stone that said he was a mighty king, Ozymandias. He had fought and won many battles and expanded his kingdom. No one could compete with him. He was king of the kings, equal to God. But what happened with the ravages of time, nothing survived. He, his glom his kingdom—all mingled with dust with the passage of time. Nothing remains. Time spares none. We all must learn a lesson from this. Our good work and art are timeless. I feel I am a wiser person today.
Our thirst for power can never be quenched. So, a simple and an unassuming way of life is the best. That’s all for now.
I’ll wait for your reply. Do write to me.
(a) “The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.” Whose hand and heart has the poet referred to in this line?
Ans. The hands of the sculptor had quite skilfully carved the face and had brought out all the expressions of cruelty and arrogance of the king, for the viewer to see what sort of feelings he had in his heart which fed those feelings. They are there even today because of the craftsmanship of the sculptor.
(b) “Nothing beside remains.” What does the narrator mean when he says these words?
Ans. Ozymandias, the king of kings, the mightiest ruler of his times had led the life of a man perpetually in pursuit of power, might, worldly pleasures. He had fought many battles and expanded his kingdom to an unthinkable vastness. After his death, nothing remained, time had wiped every trace of his kingdom, there was a vast sandy desert that remained. The piece of art survived the ravages of time, because even in the broken pieces of the statue one could read the face lying on the ground and get to know what sort of man he actually was.
(c) What is your impression of Ozymandias as a king? •
Ans. Ozymandias was a powerful king of his times. He was considered • • mightiest of the mighty king. He had fought many battles and had brought untold wealth and had expanded his kingdom into a huge one. He built palaces and set an example among his contemporaries, who felt humbled when they saw his achievements. The facial expression of the broken head, lying on the ground half-sunk in sand conveys he was a cruel despot, who was very arrogant and looked down upon his subjects with contempt. But, he was not spared by time. He met his end, his vast kingdom mingled with dust; there was no trace of it. He himself had got a huge statue made of his own self, to perpetuate his memory, but it was not to be so. The broken statue lay scattered all over the place, giving the message that might and power of the mightiest gets wiped away by time. Nothing is left, as nothing is permanent.
(g) What message is conveyed through this poem?
Ans. Nothing is permanent in this world. Everything is transient and gets washed away by the tides of time. We might run after material pursuits but they do not give us permanent happiness. We are blinded by our ego, arrogance and thirst for power which are not lasting hence can never give lasting happiness. The king tried to perpetuate his name and wanted to create all that he could to prove to the world his might, his power. But little did he realise the irony of his fate would not let anything of the sort happen. Nothing was left with time—his kingdom, his self—everything mingled with dust. Only vast sandy desert land remained.
5. Identify and rewrite the lines from the poem spoken by the narrator, the traveller and Ozymandias:
The Narrator: ——————————————
The Traveller: ——————————————
Ans. The Narrator : I met a traveller from an antique land who said,
The Traveller: Two vast and trunkless legs of stones and the heart that fed. And on the pedestal these words appear. fourteen
Ozymandias: My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. The hinset line Italian sonnet, featuring an opening octave, or set of eight level sands stretch far away.
6. Shelley’s sonnet follows the traditional structure of the f and et’ eightlines, that presents a conflict or dilemma, followed by a set of six lines, that offers some resolution or commentary upon introduced in the octave. Read the poem carefully and complete the following table on the structure of the poem.
Rhyme scheme Theme Octave ab, ac, ad, ed. Flie ruins of a powerful king and his kingdom. Arrogance, power come to nothing. Sestet ab, cd, cd. Ravages of time spare none attempt of Ozymandias to immortalize himself, fails.