Shelley's sonnet follows the traditional structure of the fourteen-line Italian sonnet, featuring an opening octave, or a set of eight lines, that presents a conflict or dilemma, followed by a sestet, or a set of six lines, that offers some resolution or commentary upon the proposition introduced in the octave. Read the poem carefully and complete the following table on the structure of the poem.
|Octave||ab, ab, ac, dc||The statue of Ozymandias is described|
|Sestet||ab, ac, ac||The boastful and arrogant words are as empty as the bare and boastful sand and that man is Insignificant before the supremacy of time and nature.|
The poem, as an Italian sonnet, can be divided into two parts: the first eight lines (octave) and the next six lines (sestet). If the octave part describes the fragments of a sculpture the traveller sees on an ancient ruin, the sestet goes further to record the words on the pedestal and then describe the surrounding emptiness. The words on the pedestal are in contrast to both the octave and the last three lines (triplet) of the poem.