By Ruchika Gupta
CBSE class 10 English Poem 4 Ozymandias Summary and Explanation
Ozymandias Summary of CBSE Class 10 English Poem and detailed explanation of the poem along with meanings of difficult words and literary devices used in the poem. Also, the Summary of Ozymandias is followed by a explanation of Ozymandian lesson. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson
About the author
Percy Bysshe Shelley
1792 – 1822
Born in Sussex, England
P.B.Shelley was born on 4 August 1792 in West Sussex, England. He was the eldest legitimate son of Sir Timothy Shelley, a Sussex landowner. He had four younger sisters and a much younger brother. He received his early education at home. His early childhood has been recounted in ‘The life of Percy Bysshe Shelley ‘by his friend and cousin, Thomas Medwin.
He studied at Eton college and later at Oxford University. In 1811, Shelley anonymously published a pamphlet called ’The necessity of Atheism’ which was brought to the attention of the university administration and he was called to appear before the College’s fellows, including the Dean. His refusal to repudiate the authorship of the pamphlet resulted in his expulsion from Oxford on 25 March 1811. He wrote many short stories, essays, poems out of which the best known are Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, The Cenci, Adonais, Prometheus Unbound to name a few.
Ozymandias Poem Explanation
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
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;
trunkless: without the upper body (the main part of the body of a human being or an animal, excluding the head, neck, and limbs)
sunk: to descend below the surface of something
shattered: broken into pieces
frown: expression of anger or displeasure
wrinkled: marks of lines or folds
sneer: facial expression of scorn or hostility in which the upper lip may be raised
cold: without feelings for others
command: domination or control
sculptor: an artist who makes sculptures
passions: refers to the expressions on the king’s face
survive: continue to exist after his death
stamped: sculpted, printed or engraved
mocked: to copy something
The poet met a traveler who came from a remote land. He told the poet that he saw the remains of a statue in the desert. Two huge legs made of stone stood and the remaining part of the statue – the upper body was missing. Another part of the statue, the face lay on the sand nearby. It was damaged and broken into pieces. The face of the statue had expressions of displeasure and a taunting smile. The wrinkles and lines of the face were also there. The poet says that the sculptor who had made the statue had read the expressions on the Egyptian king Ramesses’s face very well as he was able to copy them onto his statue so accurately. These expressions continued to exist even after the king’s death through this lifeless statue. The sculptor’s hands copied the king’s ruthless expressions and mocked at them while the king’s stone heart brought out these expressions on his face.
Ozymandias Explanation and Literary devices CBSE Class 10 English Poem
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Pedestal: the base of a statue
Mighty: the powerful kings of the world
Despair: without hope
decay: broken pieces of the statue
colossal: extremely large or great
boundless: without limits
bare: without the great statue of Ozymandias
lone: the only survivor
At the base of the statue the words – “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” were engraved. The king introduced himself as Ozymandias, the most powerful king. He ordered all the powerful kings of the world to look at his huge statue and feel belittled in front of the mightiest king – Ozymandias. The poet says that now nothing else other than this engraving remains. The statue broke down with the passage of time and its broken pieces could be seen lying around. The vast desert stretched all around and it seemed to be endless. The statue of the great king Ozymandias was nowhere to be seen.
Ozymandias Summary of the lesson
This is a sonnet (a poem of fourteen lines – the first eight form an octave and the next six form a sestet).
It is about a ruined statue which has become so with the passage of time and here, we can correlate it with Shakespeare’s sonnet ‘Not marble, nor the gilded monuments.
The title ‘Ozymandias’ is the throne name of Egyptian king Ramesses. The poem talks about his foolish desire to immortalize himself by erecting a statue.
The poet meets a person who has been to an ancient place in the deserts, Egypt. He tells the poet about the ruined statue of the great powerful king, Ozymandias. It had been destroyed with the passage of time.
There were only the two legs which stood on a platform and the upper part of the body was nowhere to be seen. The face of the statue lay buried in the sand. He praises the talent of the artist as the minutest expressions and wrinkles had been perfectly copied by him.
The engraving on the platform reflects the pride and arrogance of Ozymandias. As the statue is now destroyed, the engraving is a mockery at the pride and ego of the king.
Today, after the passage of so many centuries, finally there is no trace of the king’s accomplishment in the vast stretch of the desert.
Important Videos Links
Ozymandias Summary and Background CBSE Class 10 English Poem 4 See Video
Question and answers of the Chapter Ozymandias
Answer the following questions by ticking the correct options.
(a) The poem is set in ____________________________________________
(i) the wilderness
(ii) an ancient land
(iii) a palace
(iv) a desert
A. A desert
(b) The expression on the face of the statue is one of ____________________
(c) This poem throws light on the _________________ nature of Ozymandias.
(d) The sculptor was able to understand Ozymandias’ ___________________
(e) The tone of the poem is ________________________________________
Answer the following questions briefly.
(a) “The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed.” Whose hand and heart has the poet referred to in this line?
A. The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed.”
In this line the hand referred to is the hand of the sculptor who has carved the statue. He has copied the exact expressions of the king’s face, thus, making a perfect replica. The heart refers to the heart of king Ozymandias which is the source of these expressions of anger, hatred and pride.
(b) “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:” Why does Ozymandias refer to himself as King of Kings? What quality of the king is revealed through this statement.
A. “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:“
This verse shows that Ozymandias was very proud of his power, position and glory. He considered himself to be the mightiest of all kings which shows that he was overblown and high headed.
(c) “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Who is Ozymandias referring to when he speaks of ye Mighty? Why should they despair?
A. ‘Ye Mighty’ refers to the king’s fellow kings who consider themselves to be mighty and powerful.
He feels that they will be in despair as their accomplishments and achievements are nothing in comparison to the magnitude of his greatness. This will make the feel ashamed and sad.
(d) Bring out the irony in the poem.
A. In the poem the poet highlights that the pride and exaggeration of the powerful kings makes them short sighted. In their desperation to establish glory and name for all times to come, they forget that nothing is permanent in this world.
The huge statue built by king Ozymandias in order to establish his greatness for all times to come has been ruined by the all-pervasive time. The words engraved on the platform of his statue “Look upon my works, Ye mighty and despair” are an irony. Today there is no such great work seen around it.
All around this platform are the scattered remains of his statue. The inscription on the huge platform with the two legs standing on it and his face half buried in sand is a mockery of his claim of being the mightiest and the most powerful ruler.
(e) ‘Nothing beside remains.’ What does the narrator mean when he says these words?
A. The poet wants to say in this line that although the inscription on the platform reads out to all the mighty rulers to look at his works, there is nothing else to see around over there other than this platform. All that remains is the ruined scattered pieces of his statue lying half buried in the vast desert. So, the inscription is a mockery made by king Ozymandias of himself. His being the mightiest of the mighty kings has failed in front of the powerful element of time which destroys everything.
(f) What is your impression of Ozymandias as a king?
A. Ozymandias was a scornful, proud king. He was short tempered and egoist. He desperately sought to establish his supremacy over other powerful rulers. In his desperation, he turned a blind eye towards the reality of life. His approach to get eternal name and fame by erecting a statue fails as he is unable to foresee the might of the all-pervasive time.
(g) What message is conveyed through this poem?
A. In this poem the poet wants to tell us that we are mortals and remain in the world for a short time. We must not try to immortalize ourselves by acts of constructing huge statues and monuments. These things are also timely, and the mighty time destroys everything.
The pride and vanity which accompanies these accomplishments does not even let us remain good human beings. So, rather than aiming for endless name and fame, we must lead a humble and generous life. This approach towards life gives meaning to our life and we are recognized for our good deeds rather than the pomp and show.
Q. Shelley’s sonnet follows the traditional structure of the fourteen-line Italian sonnet, featuring an opening octave, or set of eight lines, that presents a conflict or dilemma, followed by a sestet, or set of six lines, that offers some resolution or commentary upon the proposition introduced in the octave. Read the poem carefully and complete the following table on the structure of the poem.
The passage of time has ruined the statue of the great king Ozymandias.
The shattered remains of the statue mock at the king.
Q. Complete the table listing the poetic devices used by Shelley in Ozymandias.
Lines from the poem
…and sneer of cold command
…Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
… The hand that mocked them, and the heart that
… boundless and bare
Synecdoche (substitution of a part to stand for the whole, or the whole to
stand for a part)
the hand that mock’d them
the heart that fed
Important Questions Videos Links