What is the theme of the poem "Ozymandias"?

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"Ozymandias" is an 1818 sonnet by the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a major player in the English Romantic movement. In it, Shelley describes meeting a traveler from an "antique land" who tells him of the remains of a statue of the king Ozymandias inscribed with the title "king of kings" and the phrase "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Ozymandias is a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II, typically remembered as the greatest of the pharaohs. The statue referenced in the poem would have been one of many monuments left behind by Ramesses, who ruled for decades and would have very much been the "king of kings" in his time. However, by the nineteenth century, this statue has collapsed. Shelley describes the two legs as the only part still standing, with the head half buried in the sand. Around the ruins of the statue "nothing beside remains." Ozymandias, or Ramesses, for all his glory in life, has little to show in the millennia since his death. 

Shelley is exploring the ideas of impermanence and the inevitable decay and decline of all things. By focusing on one of the greatest kings of one of the world's greatest and most enduring societies, he is showing that even the mightiest of kings will one day decay and be forgotten. Shelley's tone suggests that he is reprimanding Ozymandias for his hubris and is warning the reader against delusions of immortality. No matter what we accomplish, we will all one day be like Ozymandias, with our legacy falling apart and breaking down.

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What is the poem "Ozymandias" mostly about?

This is a great question. Ostensibly, this poem, as the title indicates, it about a statue of Ozymandias, or Ramses II of Egypt, now "half sunk" in the desert sands. Whether the poem is really about this statue, however, is a different issue. While the poem describes the statue piecemeal—its "shattered visage" and its "sneer of cold command," now lost in a sea of desert—we can argue that it is really about the hubris of Ozymandias and the ultimately transitory nature of human power and human existence.

Ozymandias was once "King of Kings," proud enough to believe that people for years to come would look upon his works and "despair." The skill of his sculptor, certainly, survives to a certain extent: it is possible to read the personality of the king in the proud look upon his carved face. Now, however, what was once a colossal monument is now a mere "Wreck," beyond which stretches no great works but only an expanse of sand. Far from being a monument to Ozymandias's greatness, then, the remains of his statue are instead a monument to his arrogance in believing that he could have power even over death and time. His words take on a new meaning—the "mighty" will indeed "despair" upon seeing what has happened to this once great ruler, but not in awe of his works, as Ozymandias once hoped.

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What is the poem "Ozymandias" mostly about?

Shelley's "Ozymandias" is about the ruins of a statue of what was once a great Egyptian king, in the poem named Ozymandias (based on a statue of Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II). On the base of the statue, Ozymandias had carved, "look on my works, ye Mighty and despair." Yet his great works are no more: where his magnificent city once stood, there is only a vast desert of "lone and level sands." While the face on the statue has a "sneer of cold command," this face, called a "visage" in the poem, now lies shattered on the desert sands. The poem is chiefly ironic: the mighty should despair, but not because Ozymandias and his kingdom are terrifying. Instead, the modern tyrants that Shelley so disliked should despair because they too, like Ozymandias, may end up as nothing, ruling over wastelands. 

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What are the main points to remember about the poem "Ozymandias"?

I would say that the transitory nature of existence is one of the critical points from the poem.  The ruler Ozymandias, self described as the "king of kings," is one whose statue is in a decrepit condition, set in a barren land.  The notion here is that during his rule, people might have seen him as a powerful king.  Ozymandias might have even seen himself as one of these rulers.  Yet, the possession of political power does not guarantee political immortality.  Rulers cannot be measured by solely their success when they rule, but must be assessed on the grounds of what they have done to ensure that their rule is lasting.  At the same time, this can be broadened to anyone who seeks immortality for its own end.  All artists could be subject to the fate of Ozymandias, seeking immortality in this life, but not accomplishing it after their time has passed.

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What are the main points of the poem "Ozymandias"?

The poem Ozymandias, by Percy Shelley, is a political sonnet that recounts a story the speaker once heard from a traveler. The traveler describes exploring the desert in his home country and finding the remnants of an ancient statue: two massive stone legs and a stone head lying nearby in ruins. There is an inscription on the pedestal the legs stand on, which reads:

I am Ozymandias, King of Kings

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

The inscription is ironic, because nothing remains of the "works" it brags about. He led an ancient civilization with no remaining traces in the sprawling desert, and even the statue commemorating him is in ruins. Shelley's poem could be interpreted as a metaphor for political power, with the crumbling statue bragging about accomplishments lost to time representing the fleeting nature of power and empire.

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