How does the poem "Ozymandias" better our understanding of our world?

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This poem helps us to gain a better understanding of the world around us and the way in which the world works by conveying the idea that nothing lasts forever, no matter how powerful or significant it seems. In this poem, a traveler tells a story of finding pieces of a great statue all separated from one another and buried in the desert sands. The pedestal on which the great statue must have once stood names the powerful person who the statue was meant to commemorate: Ozymandias, who refers to himself as the King of Kings. In other words, he must have felt that he was the most powerful, the mightiest, the most fearsome king that has ever lived. Though Ozymandias must have felt invincible, invulnerable, and eternal, the destruction of his statue tells another story—a truer story. The traveler describes the scene of "decay" and characterizes the once-magnificent statue as a "colossal Wreck." The statue has been broken and buried and forgotten, and, despite Ozymandias's evident bravado, his memory has been overcome by the sand, and sand is very often symbolic of the passage of time (consider the sand that falls within an hourglass). Time erases everything, Shelley seems to say, and this helps us to gain a better understanding of the world.

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