The famous sonnet Not Marble Nor The Gilded Monuments written by William Shakespeare is a critique of the rich and their materialistic endeavours to immortalise their legacy. Famous for numerous playwritings and 155 sonnets, Shakespeare is a literary legend and the National Poet of England. Shakespeare’s poems and dramas are a significant part of academic literature and critical appreciation across the world. In this blog, we are going to summarise and interpret one of the best sonnets by Shakespeare titled Not Marble Nor The Gilded Monuments.
About William Shakespeare
Born in 1564 in Warwickshire to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, William Shakespeare is the greatest English writer, poet and dramatist in English literature. As a successful playwright and author of magnificent works like Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, The Comedy of Error, Shakespeare wrote over 37 plays that are not just famous today but were critically acclaimed during his lifetime. Through his work, William Shakespeare explored powerful themes like tragedy, comedy, romance, social mores and gender roles. A central theme found in most of his creations is the scrutiny of human nature; Shakespeare’s insightfulness and creative depth empowered him to write flawed yet realistic characters. Shakespeare’s plays are tragic pieces of art that often explore mythological and supernational themes whilst questioning the psyche of humans and their relations and the social landscape. Much of his work has been adapted to contemporary movies and plays and even taught in school, like Not Marble Nor The Gilded Monuments.
Not Marble Nor the Gilded Monuments: Summary
Not Marble Nor the Gilded Monuments or the 55 sonnet is part of the 154 sonnets published in 1609. Shakespeare’s sonnets are famous for exploring topics like mortality, love, jealously and infidelity. The poem is an essential part of the Class 10th English syllabus and exposes students to different poems, powerful imagery and literary devices.
‘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’
The sonnet begins with powerful lines and draws the reader’s attention to the significance and longevity of poems and the futility of marble and glittering monuments that fail the test of time. He further argues that while these monuments of the royal princes shall blacken, fall into disrepair and eventually perish, poetry will forever shine and spell the tale of the young.
‘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.’
The poet states that the proud statues that stand erect in the past glory will be desecrated through human wars, and the human battles will eventually destroy the mason’s art and effort. Yet, neither war nor the will of the god of war can touch his sonnets; he reiterates his sonnets’ importance and immortality; how poems are the ‘living record of you’. Poets constant reference to ‘you’ symbolises either his friend or the youth whose memory he wishes to preserve through his work.
Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity,
Shall you pace forth;
your praise shall still find room,
Even in the eyes of all posterity.
This sonnet is unique and different from the others because of the innate confidence and pride the poet takes in his art; his belief that his work will stand the testament of time and help relive the past’s glory. Here, Shakespeare’s conviction and belief are strong and potent; he says neither death nor enmity will diminish the effect of his sonnets. He asserts that the poem will be praised through generations, till the very end of time – such is the power of his work.
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.
The poet claims that his words will be an ode to his friend until the day of judgement. When the dead shall be resurrected, and God will judge all sinners on the final day, till then, people will read, cherish and honour the past through his sonnet.
Throughout the poem, Shakespeare reiterates the idea that only his sonnets can preserve the memory of youth. The pristine monuments and their grandeur will eventually succumb to the sword of Mars while his poem will remain intact. The 55th sonnet is powerful literature that uses several literary devices like repetition, imagery, personification and alliteration.
Also Read: NCERT Solutions Class 10 English
Throughout the poem, Not Marble Nor The Gilded Monuments, Shakespeare reiterates the idea that only his sonnets can preserve youth’s memory. The pristine monuments and their grandeur will eventually succumb to the sword of Mars while his poem will remain intact. The 55th sonnet is powerful literature that uses several literary devices like repetition, imagery, personification and alliteration.
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This is where we end our blog on Not Marble Nor The Gilded Monuments and hope that you could decipher the complexities of Shakespeare’s sonnets. If you are intrigued by English literature and hope to study it, contact the experts at Leverage Edu and find out the best course and college for you!