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Shelley creates the atmosphere that sets the stage for the reader's reaction to the power portrayed in his poem with the language he uses. Very sparse, unemotional and detached vocabulary allows for no sympathy or identification with the "traveler from an antique land" or with the object of his description.
He acknowledges the transient nature of art, of poetry, and of power as he reflects upon the proclamation engraved on the statue and the contrast with what has happened to that grand monument. The mighty warrior's memorial is now "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone" and "a shattered visage." The "works" of the once-great man are now buried in "lone and level sands" that "stretch far away."
Shelley considered attempts to accumulate or demonstrate earthly power as pointless.
...the disposition to make truth serve the selfish ends of vainglorious men is a theme of history Shelley discerned well in his own time and attempted to expose in his poetry.
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