Tragic Tragedy In Ozymandias

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In the poems “Ozymandias” by Percy Shelley and “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles” by John Keats, magnificent art and grandeur are made victim to the inescapable presence of time, whose impact brings these once-great stone creations to a state of ruin. This tragic juxtaposition is strikingly clear in Ozymandias, which explores the foundational hubris of Ramesses II (Grecian name Ozymandias) , who, despite his exclamations of greatness and pride in the statue made in his likeness, finds itself half buried in the sand and largely degraded when the author encounters it. On Seeing the Elgin Marbles investigates the nature of being man versus that of a statue, with the author contrasting the experiences of man and man’s mortality with the inanimate Parthenon …show more content…
“Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,/ Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,/ The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:” (ll. 6-8). Here the speaker is saying that the statue is a direct representation of the passions of Rameses II, with these features being “fed” (l. 8), from him to be “mocked” (l.8), or portrayed on the statue, and indication of his hubris, which is then referenced when the speaker mentions the inscription on the statute; “‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:/ Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! '” (ll. 10-11). This inscription gives testament to his prideful nature, and makes clear the fact that the artwork was erected as an act of extreme hubris and intimidation; the maker desired it to be a permanent statement of his greatness. The original grandeur of the artwork is contrasted starkly with its present condition. “‘Two vast and trunkless legs of stone,/ Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,/ Half sunk, a shattered visage lies” (ll. 2-4). Line 3 contains a caesura, which draws attention to the imagery; the legs are separated from the torso and the face half obscured in the sand, completely detached. These lines describe the present state of …show more content…
The poem begins with the narrator reflecting on his own circumstance, commenting on the weight of mortality and the inevitable fate of death. My spirit is too weak—mortality/ Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,/ And each imagined pinnacle and steep/ Of godlike hardship tells me I must die” (ll. 1-4). The caesura in the middle of the first line indicates a change in subject, as the narrator contrasts the weakness of their spirit to the heaviness of mortality, with this diminishing of man’s strength setting up the character of ‘man’ within this poem, who is a being that is completely victim to outside forces beyond his control. This is affirmed with the next two lines “Of godlike hardship tells me I must die/ Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.” (ll.5-6) The use of the word “godlike hardship” (l. 5) makes the concept of death seem divine, and completely out of control of the narrator, for who, being a mortal, death is inescapable. The author reaffirms this helplessness of man by the use of the line “Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.” (l. 6). A sick eagle is one unrendered of its ability to fly, leaving it helpless and wistful as it gazes at the sky it can no longer inhabit. This line could be interpreted as a mortal gazing at existance as a whole, knowing that one

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