There is a lot of death in this poem; the figure represented in the statue is dead, along with the civilization to which he belonged. The statue is destroyed, and so it too is, in some sense, dead. And yet amidst all the death, there are several images of life that give the poem a sense of balance, however slight.
- Lines 1-2: Most of the poem describes a statue, but these first two lines describe an encounter between two living people, the speaker and a "traveler from an antique land."
- Line 6-7: The description of the "sculptor" making a statue introduces another living figure into the poem, as does the reference to the "passions" of Ozymandias. Furthermore, even though the sculpture is "lifeless," the passions still "survive."