The Romantic Period began in the early nineteenth century; it radically changed the way people perceived themselves and the nature around them. Romanticism allowed people to get away from the constrained, logical views of life, and concentrate instead on the emotional side of life. Out of this time period stemmed many great poets. Their works concentrated around the themes of beauty, nature, political liberty, and imagination. Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of these poets. Born in 1792 Shelley led an intriguing, turbulent life. In 1817 Shelley and his friend Horace Smith had a contest to see who could write the best poem about Egypt. Percy Shelley's "Ozymandias” was a direct result of this contest, and it soon became a popular work in Romantic literature. When analyzed, the poem "Ozymandias” contains many poetical elements, and also conveys many different themes that associate with the romantic period.
This poem is actually a story inside a story. It is about a man who meets a traveler, and this traveler tells him a tale. It is a tale about a great king named Ozymandias. This king was arrogant, and believed that his great kingdom would last forever. By the time the traveler came across the kingdom, it was destroyed, and fragments of a statue were all that remained.
The tone of this poem is one of lamentation and irony. It is sorrowful because the greatness and kingdom of a ruler is gone and forgotten. However, at the bottom of this sorrow, the poem holds great lessons to people who read it.
This sonnet expresses to its reader that all human power will end, and that possessions and power do not mean immortality or retained greatness. Here we have a picture of a king who believed that, because of his power and wealth , his grandness would last forever. However, through the years, the kings great works have crumbled and disappeared. The civilization that he once ruled is gone, and all that is left is "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone.