"Ozymandias" by Shelley is about a narrator who encounters "a traveller from an antique land." The traveller tells the narrator about two enormous legs of a statue that stands in the desert, surrounded by a "shattered visage," or a battered face. On the face of this sculpture is a "sneer of cold command," meaning that the face on the sculpture is making a gesture that conveys disdain and mastery. The sculptor has captured the appearance and attitude of the subject. On the pedestal of the statue, Ozymandias, a leader of ancient Egypt, engraved the words "Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Yet all around the statue, nothing remains except sand and the ruins of the statue.
The meaning of the poem is that Ozymandias, an ancient leader, thought he could control his land forever. However, time has made his statue fall into disrepair, showing that no one can control the vastness of the world and of nature. Instead, nature has made his remark seem ironic, as his statue has crumbled into a headless wreck.