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Poetry Analysis - Comparing Ozymandias to Khubla Khan

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Introduction

Comparing 'Ozymandias' by Shelley and 'Kubla Khan' by Coleridge. Both poems describe rulers although it is easy to distinguish that their reigns were contrasting in method, and severity. Some suggestions of their differences are portrayed in appearance. Ozymandias bears a 'sneer of cold command' hinting that his chief concerns involved ordering his inferiors, and seizing power. A 'frown' and 'wrinkled lip' give the impression of a cruel and despised dictator, and reveal his age. So in a way, Ozymandias lives on in his statue and has become 'ancient' with the civilisation. Kubla however is not extensively described, possibly suggesting that his physical existence was unimportant -as unlike the self-centred depiction of Ozymandias - Khubla lived through his wonderful creations rather than his personal greatness. ...read more.

Middle

My view is that a connection is being made between the force of creation that both the ruler, the poet and nature all share. Kubla seems intertwined with growth and prosperity, as shown by the 'incense-bearing trees' and 'sunny spots of greenery' implying life and happiness. Conversely, 'Ozymandias' appears to attempt a rivalry with nature, maybe even Gods. He emphasises his greatness with pomp and show - boasting about his empire 'look on my words ye mighty and despair'. This is ironic, because with the gift of hindsight the reader knows that his domain has diminished and collapsed just as his statue has. A point can be read that all things, no matter how powerful, are not permanent. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is more activity in Kubla's land with flowing water representing existence - so Ozymondias's 'lone and level sands' could symbolise extinction, and perhaps nothingness, as is signified by Ozymondias himself and his 'works'. In my opinion, this theme of expansion and success 'Kubla Khan' epitomises the British empire of the time period, which Coleridge may have been symbolising. The lack of vivacity in 'Ozymandias' might be an interpretation of the future of that same empire to be made obsolete or destroyed. To conclude, 'Ozymandias' shows the arrogance and transience of power, the permanence of both art and truth, and the contradictory relationship between artist and subject. 'Kubla Khan' reflects, though darkly, Coleridge's view of poetry, a paradise, and the heights and depths of his own spiritual being - determining the future of civilisations of today. Christopher Lawrence 10S English Coursework Essay ...read more.

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