Rhyme in Ozymandias
“Ozymandias” is a 14-line sonnet. Shelley employs a unique scheme that disorients readers looking for familiar patterns of rhyme. The standard Shakespearean sonnet uses an ABAB-CDCD-EFEF-GG rhyme scheme. The first three quatrains have steady, predictable alternating rhymes. The final couplet offers a punch at the end. In Ozymandias, Shelley uses a very different scheme: ABAB-ACDC-EDE-FDF. In some cases these are are slant rhymes—“appear”/“despair”—and resist detection. This scheme, with its less memorable rhymes, supports the poem’s theme of inevitable oblivion: just as every person will be forgotten, so will every work of poetry.