Sonnet 55: Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments

Sonnet 55: Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments

by William Shakespeare 

Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
’Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the Judgement that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

Summary of Sonnet 55: Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments

  • Popularity of “Sonnet 55: Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments”: This sonnet was written by William Shakespeare, a great English dramatist, and poet. Sonnet 55 is about love similar to other sonnets written by Shakespeare. It was first published in 1609. The poem speaks about the immortality of words: nothing can outshine the power and charm of words. It also illustrates how the speaker is proud of his immortal work.
  • “Sonnet 55: Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments” As a Representative of Pride: The speaker adores the beauty and unrestrictive nature of his work. He compares his work with dead rich kings and argues that everything has a life span, but his words are immortal that will outlive everything in the universe. He reflects on the memory of his beloved friend and says that his friends will shine in these words forever. To him, kings and princes lived in an illusion, believing that they could preserve themselves in the form of monuments.
    Unfortunately, devastating wars overturned statues and conflict ruined the Manson’s handiwork. Since his friend is preserved in the form of words, therefore he will not face a fall. Even after his death, his memory will never fade into the oblivion. He will continue to win praise in the face of successive generations that will enjoy this poetic piece. What, however, stays in the minds of the readers is his matchless love for his friend.
  • Major Themes in “Sonnet 55: Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments”: Love and immortality versus mortality are the notable themes in this poem. The poem presents the heartfelt burst of confidence as the poet possesses the power to preserve his friend’s memory in his verses. He argues that everything in the world loses its charm and beauty, but nothing can destroy his friend’s glory and charm. Undoubtedly, wars bring destruction on the face of the earth: even the great statues and monuments give way before the deadly battles. Therefore, he prefers preserving the memory of his friends in his words. In this way, his friend will remain green forever till the Day of Judgment.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Sonnet 55”

Literary devices are used to give vital ideas to simple compositions. The writer uses them to bring richness and clarity in their texts and help readers understand the writer’s intentions, emotions, and feelings. Shakespeare has also used some literary devices to bring depth to this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /i/ in “You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes” and the sound of /a/ in “When wasteful war shall statues overturn”.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /sh/ in “But you shall shine more bright in these contents” and the sound of /w/ in “When wasteful war shall statues overturn”.
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it continues in the next line. For example,

“Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Not marble nor the gilded monuments” and “Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn.”
  2. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. Shakespeare has used this device at many places in the poem such as; “When wasteful war shall statues overturn” and “And broils root out the work of masonry.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Sonnet 55”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Couplet: There are two constructive lines of verse in a couplet, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme. This sonnet ends with a couplet, which usually reveals the central idea of the poem. For example,

“So, till the Judgement that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.”

  1. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “arise/eyes”, “rhyme/time”, and “room/doom.”
  2. Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter having five iambs per line. The poem follows iambic pentameter. For example, “So till the judgment that yourself arise.”
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme.
  4. Sonnet: A sonnet is a fourteen lined poem usually written in iambic pentameter. This Shakespearean sonnet consists of three quatrains and a couplet.

Quotes to be Used

These lines are useful on an occasion of the speech delivered in the memory of great people.

Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.”