Comparison of Viva La Vida and Ozymandias

Have you read about what Ozymandias and Viva La Vida is?
Have you read the Interpretation?
If you have not read about it yet, click here to read,

Let's now compare the lyrics of both the poem and the song.
In the poem, the speaker is the poet himself/herself. The speaker in the poem states that he met “a traveller from an antique land” and the traveller told the speaker all about ozymandias. It means that the speaker is a casual observer in this poem. Both of the speakers in poem and song refer himself/herself as the first person, because both in poem and song used the word “I” as a subject. While the speaker of the song is the song writer. The speaker of the song states that “I used to rule the world” which means that the speaker is an omniscient narrator.

The poem and the song lyric has an ironic tone, as it is said in line 12 in the poem: “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay.” While in song lyric it is said in some lyric parts: “Now in the morning I sleep alone”, “Sweep the streets I used to own” The diction in this poem influences understanding of the poem, this poem used some difficult words so it is hard to understand the meaning of the poem if we read it once. While the song lyric used simple words, it helps the listeners to understand its meaning easier than poem’s meaning. The tone of the poem and song lyric is consistent from the beginning until the ending.

The conflict of the poem is happened when the speaker states that the king of the kings is not a king anymore. While in the song lyric, the conflict happened when the speaker realized that she/he is not a king anymore and she/he has no power to rule the world anymore. In poem, it is said in line 12: “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay”, it has meaning that the king’s power has ended. The poem and song lyric has an external conflict itself. In the poem, Shelley as the writer, wrote the poem to criticize the king at that time in England and it was effectively ruled by Prince Regent, George IV from 1811 (Anglaise, 2016). While the song lyric was written to remind people about French Revolution, especially about Louis XVI and the “sound of drums” alludes to his approach to the guillotine (Jonakin, 2008).

Talking about the content, the poem was written in 1818 along with the rule period of George IV. As it is said before, the poem was written to criticize the king at that time. Besides, in 1817 Shelley and his friend decided to join sonnet competition. For the subject of his poem, Shelley and his friend used a statue of Ramses II (Ozymandias) which can describe the content of the poem. After read the history of the poem, it does not change my understanding about its theme. The poem is consistent between the use of language and the era where the poem was made. While the song was released in 2008. Martin wrote the lyric to remind people about the reign of Louis XVI with the guillotine and the revolutionaries. After read the history of the song, it does not change my understanding about the song’s theme. The song lyric is consistent and the use of diction adjust with that era.

This poet follows a formal poetic structure. The structure of this poem is Sonnet, which has 14 lines. This poem is neither Petrarchan nor Shakespearean sonnet because the rhyme is not exactly the same as Petrarchan nor Shakespearean. This poet has abab / acdc / ed / efef. At first, the rhyme is exactly like Shakespearean, but then it get quite like Petrarchan. The end rhyme is exactly different than both of Petrarchan and Shakespearean. This poem does not have a clear stanza, it is just one and has 14 lines with lots of punctuation in it. Compared to the song, this song has 4-lines stanza. This song has Feminine rhyme, a rhyme with two syllables. This rhyme makes the song catchier. This song has verses and choruses, 2 verses and 3 choruses.

The next topic, we are going to compare is the visual, metaphor and symbol appeared in both poem and song. In the third stanza of the song which is Next the walls were closed on me,........ my castles stand, Upon pillars of salt, and pillars of sand, the reader will imagine the situation by visualizing those word. Juxtaposed with the poem, in the fourth line “on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,” can also be visualized by the reader since it shows the condition of the traveler who is found in the desert. Although if we analyze this poem further, the meaning will not be same as our visualization. The metaphor appeared in the poem is shown in the eight line, “the heart that fed” as we know that the heart will not ever feed something and “The hand that mocked them” means the sculptor who mock at the king. In the chorus part of the song, “Be my mirror my sword and shield” has two meanings because mirror in this song means the reflection of the king’s face, while sword means authority and power, and shield means the protection. Those words are the metaphors used to describe the tale of Rinaldo and the Crusaders. The poem also represents the appearance of the king, which is frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command and represents the anger of the king.

The poet puts three main points that ease the reader to catch the meaning behind this poem. The first most obvious diction in this poem is the title itself, Ozymandias. When reading the poem, the reader can easily know that it is about greatness, grandeur, and majesty. Thus, Ozymandias is the right choice to describe them all because he is known as the great king from Egypt who exactly has greatness, grandeur, and majesty. Then, it is explained more by the supporting sentences telling that the passion of Ozymandias depicted well even in the broken statue, he is king of kings, he is the Mighty, etc. 

The second big hint is the last line of the poem. The lone and level sands stretch far away, this line signals that eventually the ruined statue is left alone in the dessert. It helps the reader to understand that the poem actually talks about fleeting life. This word choices clearly tells that ultimately everything will be left and forgotten even though it used to be praised and exalted before. 

The third one is the use of word “traveller”.  It is actually in the beginning of the poem, but it will be hard to find out its role before reading the whole poem closely. Traveller can be someone who is really travelling or can be connotative meaning. Nevertheless, the traveller in this poem is not described specifically as a person. Thus, looking at the context, the word “traveller” can be interpreted as the fact and/or the poet experience witnessing this kind of fleeting life. 

Compared to the diction of the song, the writer chose several meaningful words. The first one is Viva La Vida which has meaning Live the Life, from the title we already know that this song tell us about how life is going. And the second one is missionaries which means people who spread the religion things.