Long, Complicated Sentences
Shelley loved to write really long sentences, and this poem is no exception. The second complete sentence, which begins in line 3, is a good example. The sentence has a lot of separate clauses that resemble complicated Latin sentences from two thousand years ago. The main clause is the statement that a "shatter'd visage" lies in the sand near the legs; the rest of the sentence – you know all that stuff about the "frown" and "sneer of cold command" and how the sculptor was so good that the passions have outlived both Ramses and the artist – is all extraneous information that merely adds to or supplements the first assertion. This long, central sentence gives the poem an epic feel, even within the confines of a decidedly un-epic poetic form, the fourteen-line sonnet. Shelley always had grand ambitions.