The narrator of Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley is obviously well-traveled and interesting as he comes from "an antique land," suggesting that he is perhaps mysterious and exotic and seemingly knowledgeable. He reflects on the scene before him and immediately recognizes the irony in what is left of "Ozymandias, king of kings..." in the form of his broken and derelict statue. Far from reflecting his grandeur, Ozymandias's statue is a testament to his pride and arrogance and it is ironic that even the sculptor could see it when he was working; to the point that the sculptor sculpted the " frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,..."
Further irony is present as, the king (Ramses II), does not even recognize it in the finished product; when the sculpture is completed. He is far too vain. The king thinks that the sculpture reveals his greatness to the point that other significant rulers whom he calls, "the Mighty," will "despair," as they cannot match his importance. Ozymandias is also convinced that he will be remembered in history as a great ruler whereas, in fact, he is exposed as a tyrant.
The fact that the "shattered visage," still exists but only to discredit him and lies apart from, "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone..." adds to the mocking tone of Shelley's poem. They, the stone blocks, are imposing but, without a head, they signify nothing and it is fitting that such a manipulative king should suffer this fate. The statue becomes offensive and, "a colossal wreck" suffering "decay." There is nothing majestic in these descriptions.
The words on the inscription intensify the insult because anyone who looks "on my works," will be less than impressed with what surrounds the statue; noting more than, "The lone and level sands," which are "boundless and bare."