OZYMANDIAS By Percy Bysshe Shelley POEM: EXPLANATION: I met a traveler from an antique land Antique = ancient. The poet met a man from another land. who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of The man told him about a statue. Only the legs are left. They are huge stone (“vast”) and no longer support the rest of the body (trunk = the main part of your body). stand in the desert … near them, on the sand, This statue lies in the desert. half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose The head of the statue (“visage” = a person’s face) is lying in pieces frown, (“shattered”), half buried in the sand (“half sunk”). and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, This head shows a man with a frown and a wrinkled lip. He looks like he is sneering (sneer = to show contempt / scorn / utter dislike). This sneering attitude comes from the fact that he is the absolute ruler who believes himself to be superior to everyone else (“cold command”). tell that its sculptor well those passions read Obviously the sculptor was very perceptive (good at observing things) because he captured the attitude / personality of the ruler well in the statue. which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless It’s almost as though the personality of the long-dead ruler lives on in the things, lifeless statue because the sculptor has captured his personality so well. the hand that mocked them, and the heart Even though the ruler gave life and meaning to the nation (“the heart that that fed: fed”), he was arrogant towards his subjects (“the hand that mocked them). and on the pedestal these words appear: Pedestal = a support for a statue. ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: The inscription on the pedestal tells us who the statue represents. His claim Look on my words, ye Mighty, and despair!’ to be the “king of kings” shows that he was once an important ruler. His kingdom must have been impressive for him to tell other mighty rulers to “despair” (completely loose hope) when looking at his name. Nothing besides remains. Round the decay His words are ironic because no matter how powerful he once was, nothing of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare of his kingdom remains. Despite his grandiose claims of being the “king of the lone and level sands stretch far away. kings”, everything is now decayed (rotted / deteriorated). His huge (“colossal”) statue is a broken “wreck”, and his kingdom has turned to sand which stretch as far as they eye can see. Boundless = without end. Lone = solitary.
IF YOU DON’T STAY BITTER FOR TOO LONG By Charles Mungoshi POEM: EXPLANATION: If you don’t stay bitter Bitter = resentful / cynical and angry for too long you might finally salvage Salvage = save / recover something useful Useful = constructive / helpful from the old country The old country = Zimbabwe before the civil war (formerly Rhodesia). A lazy half sleep summer afternoon The poet is saying that one of the things worth remembering from the old for instance, with the whoof-whoof of grazing cattle in your ears tails swishing, flicking flies away or the smell of newly turned soil with birds hopping about in the wake of the plough in search of worms country is the uncomplicated rural way of life. He talks of “lazy” days spent in nature, and living off the land. “Whoof-whoof” = onomatopoeia or the pained look of your father He also believes that the values of the older generation are worth saving. a look that took you all these years and lots of places to understand He didn’t understand or appreciate the views of his father at the time, but now that he has matured and been exposed to the hardships of life, he realizes his father’ was right about a lot of things. The bantering tone you used with your Relationships with extended family members are also worth saving. There grandmother and their old laugh that said nothing matters but death is much comfort and wisdom to be gained from their life experiences, like not to take yourself too seriously (“nothing matters but death”). If you don’t stay bitter The first lines of the poem are repeated here, except that the poet adds: and angry for too long and have the courage to go back “and have the courage to go back”. It’s all very well to forgive and forget, but the real value comes from working through the past, not turning your back on it. It takes courage to confront your inner demons. you will discover that the autumn smoke But … if you have that courage, you will discover that out of the destruction writes different more helpful messages in the high skies of the old country. (“autumn smoke”), people have learned valuable lessons and healed. Society has been reborn (“writes different more helpful messages”).