What is the theme and some of the literary devices used in Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem "Ozymandias"?
A primary theme of the poem is the impermanence of human endeavor and how fame and power are as fleeting as the human body. Nothing remains of this king (also known as Ramses II) but a decaying statue which depicts his "shattered visage." Not only is the great ruler dead, but his monument is crumbling as well. The man, the artist, and the art will all pass away.
One striking literary device that Shelley uses in the poem is verbal irony. The traveler remembers that the statue's pedestal read, "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, / Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" There is an incongruity between what the pedestal says and what we know to be true.
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