The quote come from the poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

The question is when is a good time to you use an ellipsis instead of a comma or dot, because I feel that an ellipsis doesn't do anything here. Am I wrong? A comma or a dot could have had the same effect, is there a kind of stylistic effect here that's at play and I am unaware of?

1 Answer 1


In this example, commas are already being used liberally to clarify the serpentine sentence structures, and to create rhythm with compartmentalized descriptions. Otherwise it becomes a run-on sentence with unclear focus, rather than a sequence of individual images.

The ellipsis creates a stronger separation between 2 disconnected parts of the statue. The legs are standing but most of the body is missing, meanwhile a part of the face is nearby. It's the same statue, but broken into distinct parts. The ellipsis mirrors the "interruption" of the contiguous statue, echoing the missing torso.

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