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.
Sonnet 55 is one of the sonnets published in by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It is included in what is referred to as the Fair Youth sequence. Sonnet 55 is an English or Shakespearean sonnet. The English sonnet contains three quatrains followed by a final rhyming couplet. The fifth line exemplifies a regular iambic pentameter:. Sonnet 55 is interpreted as a poem in part about time and immortalization. The poet claims that his poem will outlast palaces and cities, and keep the young man's good qualities alive until the Last Judgement.
The sonnet traces the progression of time, from the physical endeavours built by man monuments, statues, masonryas well as the primeval notion of warfare depicted through the image of "Mars his sword" and "war's quick fire", to the concept of the Last Judgment.
The young man will survive all of these things through the verses of the speaker. John Crowe Ransom points out that there is a certain self-refuting aspect to the promises of immortality: for all the talk of causing the subject of the poems to live forever, the sonnets keep the young man mostly hidden.
The claim that the poems will cause him to live eternally seem odd when the vocabulary used to describe the young man is so vague, with words such as "lovely", "sweet", "beauteous" and "fair". In this poem among the memorable descriptions of ruined monuments the reader only gets a glimpse of the young man in line 10 "pacing forth". These monuments, statues, and masonry reference both Horace 's Odes and Ovid 's Metamorphoses.
However, while Horace and Ovid claim the immortality for themselves, the speaker in sonnet 55 bestows it on another. Engle also claims that this is not the first time Shakespeare references the self-aggrandizement of royals and rulers by saying that poetry will outlive them.
He frequently mentions his own political unimportance, which could lead sonnet 55 to be read as a sort of revenge of the socially humble on their oppressors. While the first quatrain is referential and full of imagery, in the second quatrain Ernest Fontana focuses on the epithet "sluttish time". The Oxford English Dictionary gives "sluttish" two definitions: 1 dirty, careless, slovenly which can refer to objects and persons of both sexes and 2 lewd, morally loose, and whorish.
According to Fontana, Shakespeare intended the second meaning, personifying and assigning gender to time, making the difference between the young man sonnets and the dark lady sonnets all the more obvious. Shakespeare had used the word "slut" nearly a year before he wrote sonnet 55 when he wrote Timon of Athens. In the play, Timon associates the word "slut" with "whore" and venereal disease. Associating "sluttish" with venereal disease makes Shakespeare's use of the word "besmeared" more specific.
Fontana states: "The effect of time, personified as a whore, on the hypothetical stone statue of the young man, is identified in metaphor with the effect of syphilis on the body—the statue will be besmeared, that is, covered, with metaphoric blains, lesions, and scars.
Helen Vendler expands on the idea of "sluttish time" by examining how the speaker bestows grandeur on entities when they are connected to the beloved but mocks them and associates them with dirtiness when they're connected with something the speaker hates. She begins by addressing the "grand marble" and "gilded" statues and monuments; these are called this way when the speaker compares them to the verse immortalizing the beloved.
However, when compared to "sluttish time" they are "unswept stone besmeared". The same technique occurs in the second quatrain. Battle occurs between mortal monuments of princes, conflict is crude and vulgar, "wasteful war" overturns unelaborated statues and "broils" root out masonry. Later in quatrain war becomes "war's quick fire" and "broils" become "Mars his sword". The war is suddenly grand and the foes are emboldened.
The blatant contempt with which the speaker regards anything not having to do with the young man, or anything that works against the young man's immortality, raises the adoration of the young man by contrast alone. Like the other critics, Vendler recognizes the theme of time in this sonnet.SONNET 55 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, besmear'd 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. So, till the judgment that yourself arise, You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes. Are all the Sonnets addressed to two Persons?
Who was The Rival Poet? Radical, when a word or root of some general meaning is employed with reference to diverse objects on account of an idea of some similarity between them, just as the adjective 'dull' is used with reference to light, edged tools, polished surfaces, colours, sounds, pains, wits, and social functions; and Poetical, where a word of specialized use in a certain context is used in another context in which it is literally inappropriate, through some similarity in function or relation, as 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune', where 'slings' and 'arrows', words of specialized meaning in the context of ballistics, are transferred to a context of fortune.
Read on Sonnet Theories The interpretations of them collectively, however, the theories of their nature and purport collectively, differ widely. All Rights Reserved.Neither marble nor the gilded tombs of princes will outlive this powerful poetry, but you will shine more brightly in these pages than those neglected buildings that crumble to dust, besmirched by heartless time.
When devastating war overturns statues, and battles uproot buildings, neither the sword of Mars nor the quick-burning fires of war shall destroy this living record of your memory. You will continue on strongly in the face of death and dispassionate enmity. Praise of you by all the successive generations that will wear this world out will continue until doomsday. So till the Day of Judgment, when you will be raised up, you will live in this poetry and remain in the eyes of the lovers who read this.
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Analysis of Sonnet 55 by William Shakespeare
Mina says:. Dorji Rinchen says:. Join 1o,ooos of other Shakespeare fans worldwide for immediate access to our latest content! Close dialog. Session expired Please log in again.Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print. Sonnet 55 is all about the endurance of love, preserved within the words of the sonnet itself.
It will outlive material things such as grand palaces, royal buildings and fine, sculptured stone; it will outlive war and time itself, even to judgement day. This is because the poem will always be a 'living record', the memory of love will stay alive within the sonnet, come what may. The effects of time, the destructive forces of war - they count for nothing. This idea, of love, memory and spirit being kept alive in the written word, is ancient and goes back at least to Ovid in his Metamorphoses.
Shakespeare was undoubtedly inspired by this but his sonnets are still shrouded in mystery. We know he wrote them at a time when England was going through social and religious chaos in the late 16th century but scholars have no clear idea who he wrote them for. Was he directly inspired by the fair youth and the dark lady?
Or were they created for royalty and those aristocrats who sponsored plays? Are the sonnets simply the work of a dramatic poet in love with love itself and who had read Ovid, Horace and Homer and other classics? They are certainly love sonnets but exactly which type of love is open to question - the Greeks had eight different words for each aspect of love, amongst them Eros sexual passion and Agape love for everyone.
Sonnet 55 is a curious mix of both. It could well be inspired by a personal friend of the poet's. Equally, it could point to a deity - say Venus - or the spirit of that goddess within a real male or female. Interestingly this sonnet starts off with a negative, the adverb not, introducing the reader to think about what is not important in life, which is fine stone and crafted stonework.
Note the double alliteration and the allusion to grand palaces.
This is iambic pentameter, five feet of unstressed then stressed syllable, English poetry's most dominant metre meter in USA. Shakespeare uses it a lot in his sonnets but also mixes it up with spondee and trochee - watch out for the changes.
So the stone work is royal, or at least, belongs to a young royal male. Is this a clue as to who the sonnet is written for? Another young male, but not a prince? Or is this generic royal stone? Either way this material doesn't get to outlive the power of this poetry. The third line helps the reader put things in perspective because now there is a person or figure involved Note the alliteration again and the trochee which comes as a surprise after the steady iambics - but contents is pronounced with the stress on the con - and leaves a feminine ending with enjambment.William Shakespeare The poem makes a defiant statement about the power of poetry and love over death while, ironically, deriving much of its poetic interest through images of oblivion.
Shakespeare was born in in Stratford-upon-Avon, a small market town in a rural region north of London, England. He had four sisters, only one of whom lived to adulthood, and three younger brothers, all of whom survived childhood, although none outlived Shakespeare himself.
At the age of eighteen, Shakespeare married Ann Hathaway, a woman eight years his senior. Their first child, Susanna, was born six months later, followed by twins, Hammet and Judith, in At an undetermined time following the birth of his twins, Shakespeare joined a professional acting company and traveled to London, where he began writing as well as acting.
His first plays, three parts of the Henry VI history cycle, were presented in — This group began performing at the playhouse known simply as the Theatre and at the Cross Keys Inn, moving to the Swan Theatre on Bankside in when municipal authorities banned the public presentation of plays within the limits of the city of London. Three years later, Shakespeare and other members of the company financed the building of the most famous of all Elizabethan playhouses, the Globe Theatre. It is widely believed that Shakespeare wrote many of his sonnets during the s, although they were not published until The specific inspiration for the sonnets remains the subject of controversy and speculation.
The playwright profited handsomely from his long career in the theater and invested in real estate, purchasing properties in both Stratford and London. As early as he had attained sufficient status to be granted a coat of arms and the accompanying right to call himself a gentleman.
Bywith his reputation as the leading English dramatist unchallenged, Shakespeare is believed to have retired to Stratford, although business interests brought him to London on occasion. He died on April 23,and was buried in the chancel of Trinity Church in Stratford. Shakespeare heightens his use of war imagery with a reference to Mars, the ancient Roman god of war. These lines assert that not even fire and the god of war can erase the memory of the Young Man. In the face of both death and a force of hatred that either wants the Young Man to be forgotten or is oblivious to life, the youth will still somehow be appreciated.
The poem reflects a common view during the Elizabethan age that the entire world was in a process of gradual decay and decline as humanity moved through time toward the Last Judgment—the Judeo-Christian idea of apocalypse and an end of time. The anxiety running throughout the poem is not merely due to a fear of death, but the idea that all traces of the self might be completely erased from the earth.
The poem rejects traditional human attempts at preserving the memory of an individual through the building of monuments, statues, or buildings as doomed to either decay through the effects of time or to ruin through the violence of war.
A sonnet is a fourteen-line poetic form originally developed by the Italian poet Petrarch. The rhyme scheme for a traditional Petrarchan sonnet is as follows: abba, abba, cdc, dcd. After sonnet form was adopted by the English during the mid-sixteenth century, variations in this rhyme scheme began to appear. Shakespeare in particular is noted for manipulating sonnet form in new ways that allow for greater flexibility, variety, and expressive power than that possible with Petrarchan sonnet form.
Maintaining the basic fourteen-line sonnet structure, Shakespeare employed three quatrains followed by a rhyming couplet as follows: abab, cdcd, efef, gg. The variation in rhyme often mirrors the shifting thoughts and moods of the poet. Shakespeare lived during the Renaissance, an era regarded as an age of discovery and human enlightenment. A million die from starvation and disease. The famines were primarily caused by excessive reliance upon a single food crop.
Today: North Korea is in the midst of a famine that started with a flood that ruined crops and killed livestock. Despite international relief efforts, in January ofthe United Nations reported that the country would need at least a million pounds of donated food. Today: Capitalism, rather than patronage largely governs the publication of literature. With the exception of works financed by grants from government organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, writers must increasingly prove to publishers that their works will sell to a mass audience.
Publishers pay authors a negotiable advance, after which the author is usually entitled to a royalty fee—a share of the profits. Few poets are able to support themselves solely through their art, although there are many outlets for the publication and distribution of poetry. England is victorious due to superior military might.With the partial exception of the Sonnetsquarried since the early 19th century for autobiographical secrets allegedly encoded in them, the nondramatic writings have traditionally been pushed Prose Home Harriet Blog.
Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library. Newsletter Subscribe Give. Poetry Foundation. Back to Previous. Sonnet 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. Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room. That wear this world out to the ending doom. So, till the Judgement that yourself arise. Norton and Company Inc. Immortal Beloved. By Austin Allen. On the missing persons of love poetry. Read More. More Poems by William Shakespeare. The Phoenix and the Turtle. Sonnet When I consider everything that grows. Sonnet Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws.
See All Poems by this Author. See a problem on this page?In this first of many sonnets about the briefness of human life, the poet reminds the young man that time…. The poet challenges the young man to imagine two different futures, one in which he dies childless, the other in…. The poet urges the young man to reflect on his own image in a mirror. The poet returns to the idea of beauty as treasure that should be invested for profit. In this first of two linked sonnets, the poet compares the young man to summer and its flowers, doomed to….
Continuing the argument from s. This sonnet traces the path of the sun across the sky, noting that mortals gaze in admiration at the rising…. The poet observes the young man listening to music without pleasure, and suggests that the young man hears in the…. The poet argues that if the young man refuses to marry for fear of someday leaving behind a grieving widow,…. This sonnet, expanding the couplet that closes s. The poet once again urges the young man to choose a future in which his offspring carry his vitality forward….
As he observes the motion of the clock and the movement of all living things toward death and decay, the…. The poet argues that the young man, in refusing to prepare for old age and death by producing a child,….Analyzing and Reading a Shakespearean Sonnet
In the first of two linked sonnets, the poet once again examines the evidence that beauty and splendor exist only…. Continuing the thought of s. The poet contrasts himself with poets who compare those they love to such rarities as the sun, the stars, or….
This sonnet plays with the poetic idea of love as an exchange of hearts. The poet urges the young man…. The poet blames his inability to speak his love on his lack of self-confidence and his too-powerful emotions, and he…. The poet claims that his eyes have….
The poet contrasts himself with those who seem more fortunate than he. Their titles and honors, he says, though great,…. The poet, assuming the role of a vassal owing feudal allegiance, offers his poems as a token of duty, apologizing….
In this first of two linked sonnets, the poet complains that the night, which should be a time of rest,…. Though he has flattered…. The poet pictures his moments of serious reflection as a court session in which his memories are summoned to appear….
The poet sees the many friends now lost to him as contained in his beloved. Thus, the love he once…. The poet describes the sun first in its glory and then after its being covered with dark clouds; this change…. The poet excuses the beloved by citing examples of other naturally beautiful objects associated with things hurtful or ugly. The poet feels crippled by misfortune but takes delight in the blessings heaped by nature and fortune on the beloved.
The poet attributes all that is praiseworthy in his poetry to the beloved, who is his theme and inspiration. As in s. First, it…. The poet again tries to forgive the young man, now on the grounds that the young man could hardly have…. The poet attempts to excuse the two lovers. He first argues that they love each other only because of him;….