In the poems “Ozymandias” and “I Remember, I Remember”, the poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and Thomas Hood, create the passage of time by using carefully selected language and images.
In “Ozymandias” by Percy Shelley the poet tells us about the meeting of a “traveller” who describes the story of Ozymandias’s “shattered” statue. The traveller tells us how the statue was once great but is now forgotten and abandoned in “the desert”. The head of the statue is separate and buried in the sand. The meaning of the poem is that human power is a temporary possession, and time is the one that takes it away.
Shelley uses many methods to show the passage of time. One of which is the structure of the poem. Shelley uses a sonnet structure so he could split the poem up effectively. The passage of time is demonstrated by using an octave and a sestet. In the octave Shelley talks about how powerful Ozymandias was, and in the sestet he talks about how Ozymandias’s power has gone. This successfully highlights that time has past and power has faded.
In the octave Shelley uses ‘antique land’ to describe the grandeur of where Ozymandias’s statue was in his time of glory. Also if the statue was to ‘stand in the desert’ this might symbol that Ozymandias was strong and powerful just like his statue, which was able to withstand the ravages of nature. His ‘wrinkled lip’ and ‘sneer of cold command’ also suggest in his prime he was a man worth fighting against. He was strong. His now ‘half sunk’ statue may imply that not only his statue is buried, but all memory of his power, which has faded from human minds. For his power to have faded, a great deal of time must have past.
In the sestet Shelley talks about what has become of Ozymandias. In comparison to the octave it shows the passage of time. The statue is alone, now ‘nothing besides remains’, showing that his power that was so great has been forgotten and none of his power remains. The ‘colossal’ power Ozymandias had has now turned to a ‘wreck’; his greatness had faded. The alliteration seen in ‘boundless and bare’ gives the impression of distance and loneliness suggesting this is what Ozymandias may feel now he is no longer powerful and great.
The poem shows that in the end time will leave human individuals forgotten and their power gone.
Thomas Hood also reflects the passage of time in the poem “I Remember, I Remember”.
The poem is about the poet’s childhood. He writes about good times in his life as a child, and how now as he has grown old, how the passage of time has taken his dreams away.
In “I Remember, I Remember” the poem also has an obvious structure, like Ozymandias. ” I Remember, I Remember” has four stanzas, each of which start with Hood looking back at his childhood with happy memories and ending with the sadness concerning what he feels now. This is also shown in Ozymandias as in the octave the poet describes how great and powerful he was, but in the sestet it talks of the ‘colossal wreck’ he has become. Hood believes his life is the same.
In “I Remember, I Remember” the passage of time is created straight away. “I Remember, I Remember” is repeated at each stanza, this emphasises the strength of his memories. We focus on how important they are to him and how clear they are even after time has passed.
In the first stanza of “I Remember, I Remember” Hood firstly talks of how happy he was as a child and that even the sun was his friend, each day was perfect in his eyes the sun ‘never came a wink too soon, nor brought too, long a day’. Though Hood also suggests in this stanza that he now wishes he was happy just like he was as a child, as he wished the night had ‘borne’ his ‘breath away’. Hood writes the poem as though looking back he is disappointed of what he has become. Just as Ozymandias, if he were alive now perhaps he would also be disappointed of how the passage of time has affected him.
Hood talks of ‘violets’ and ‘flowers’ suggesting that he found satisfaction in small things. Unlike Ozymandias, Hood had nature around him and took time to notice the small things as he mentions how he saw that flowers were ‘made of light’. However Ozymandias’ statue is planted in the desert showing that he cared not for nature but for his power and his importance. In this second stanza Hood also shows surprise at the fact that his brother’s laburnum tree is ‘living yet!’ This may suggest that Hood is shocked how much time has affected him, but not the tree that was planted many years ago. As the tree is still healthy and full of life, where as Hood is depressed and regrets what he has become.
The next stanza Hood mentions as a child he thought his ‘spirit flew in feathers’ like a ‘swallow on the wing’ perhaps this suggests as a child he felt as free as a bird. Though now through time he feels ‘heavy’, as though he doesn’t have the freedom he had in his youth. Hood mentions a ‘fever’ on his brow, this suggests that he has a fear of growing old, and that the coldest ‘summer pools’ could hardly make him feel better about his ageing self.
Finally Hood ends the poem with a stanza, which again starts with Hood talking of his childhood, but ending in a more depressing tone of the present. As though he is going through a state of melancholy. His mention of ‘childish ignorance’ shows how he feels towards reality, he hates the truth that he is now further away from his dreams he wanted as a child. As Hood looks back over time, he remembers the ‘fir trees dark and high’ suggesting he had dreams of being big and powerful, but now over the passage of time he is ‘further off from heav’n’ and his dreams are lost. Just like Hood, Ozymandias had ambitions to be great and powerful, but over time they have been taken and trampled on. Leaving nothing but the wrecked statue.
Both of the poems prove that over a period of time anything can change, whether it is the power of Ozymandias, or Hood’s hopes and dreams he had as a child. Time can break anything if you let it, and is the overall winner.