Ozymandias
Ozymandias
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Calling Card

What is the poet’s signature style?

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.

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