What made Percy Shelley's "Ozymandias" a memorable poem and what feelings does the poem evoke?  

Expert Answers
shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Percy Shelley's “Ozymandias” is an interesting example of early British Romanticism. The statue referenced in the poem was real and had been recently acquired by a museum in England. Shelley wrote this poem to commemorate the occasion.

Most readers and critics would probably say that the poem is memorable for its treatment of the desire to gain everlasting fame. Ozymandias was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who commissioned the monument to insure his legacy. However, by the time the British decide to bring it back to the museum, the statue is anything but impressive.

The words on the statue say:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Ozymandias obviously wanted to make a bold, confident statement. But Shelley immediately then comments on the transitory nature of life when he describes what the statue looks like:

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The contrast between Ozymandias' words and the condition of his statue might leave the reader with several possible feelings. A reader might feel satisfaction that Ozymandias got his comeuppance and paid for his arrogance, or a reader might be left with a sense of loss over the temporary nature of life.  

Read the study guide:

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question