Notes on the Sea and Ozymandias

Decent Essays

Points to remember:

1. The statue of Ozymandias stands as a metaphor (symbol) of the temporal (not permanent) nature of political power. Time and history have a destructive power that brings all to an end.

2. The statue in the poem also symbolizes pride or ‘hubris’ (arrogance) of all humanity in any form it may take.

3. Material possessions do not last.

4. The poet points out to us that all that is left is art (the remains) and a few words (what is written on the pedestal). It seems therefore that art and language outlast the legacies of power. (see Shakespeare’s Sonnet LX)

5. In describing Ozymandias the poet distances him from our present reality in fact the narrator meets a traveller who describes the
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Even the way the verses are placed like waves to completely immerse the reader into the atmosphere, shows imagination.

In the first two stanzas the atmosphere at sea is wild and frightening. The poet describes the wild sea as if it is a ‘hungry dog’. This is a metaphor that carries along throughout the poem. The poet takes the qualities of a dog and transfers them to the sea, for example the sea is ‘giant and grey’ and it has ‘clashing teeth’ and ‘shaggy jaws’. The poet makes us imagine the atmosphere at sea when it is rough and dangerous. The repetition of the word ‘bones’ conveys an idea of rocks being eroded by the sea as it gnaws the rocks or else we are reminded of the bones of those whose life ended at sea. In the second stanza the rough sea becomes a stormy sea and the dog is now angry. The waves crash on the rocks and we can imagine the sea spray in the metaphor, ‘shaking his wet sides over the cliffs’. The poet also describes sounds in an imaginative way reminding us of the sounds made by a dog, ‘snuffs and sniffs’ and ‘howls and hollos’. These alliterations emphasise the scary atmosphere with a kind of death-like omen. Even the moon in the sky seems to be ‘rocking’ because the wind is very strong and clouds are flying fast.

There is a sudden contrast in stanza three, where the sea calms down and the ‘dog’ is sleeping peacefully. The atmosphere is calm and we imagine
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