Who could the traveller or the person writing this poem - "I" - be in Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley?
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. 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
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".
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In Ozymandias, a mystic element is added to the poem through the narrator. Not only does the reader learn of the irony of Ozymandias- "King of kings" of which "Nothing " beside the"half sunk" statue itself remains - but the narrator allows the traveller to actually tell the story himself - quoting him verbatim.
"I" then is the poet himself who chanced upon this interesting "traveller from an antique land." The narrator feels that the story will hold more depth if he uses the traveller's own words. The fact that "I" decided to relate the "decay of that colossal wreck" through the traveller adds to the mocking tone of the poem.
The words of the inscription - Ozymandias' own words apparently - as the "mighty" should even "despair" at his greatness are the most powerful and thus it was a clever strategy of Shelley's not to interfere personally in the retelling of the poem and the irony of this now "lifeless thing" that was once a great kingdom.
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