STUDY QUESTIONS for 1817 Sonnet Writing Competition

1. Compare the titles of Shelley's sonnet and Smith's. Which title is more effective? Why? (Now compare both titles with the title of Denon's description of Egyptian ruins.)

2. Shelley's poem is as much about a "sculptor" as it is about the King. What do artists have to do with rulers and empires?

3. Make a list of everyone who "speaks" and everyone who hears them speak in "Ozymandias." Now compare the process of seeing, writing about, and reading about ruins over time, as seen in the travelers' accounts excerpted in this hypertext. How do these sonnets participate in a chain of communication about Ozymandias?

4. One thing sonnets have traditionally been about is mutability, the recognition that everything changes. Find another sonnet--by Shakespeare or by someone else--on this same theme, and then compare it to Shelley's and Smith's poems.

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The Romantic Circles High School Interactive Discussion

To Shelley's "Ozymandias"