-William Shakespeare

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments / Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;

Statues and monuments will not last as long as this poem;

But you shall shine more bright in these contents / Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.

And you will last longer, immortalized in this poem, than the stone statues and monuments, which will fade and become dusty over time.

When wasteful war shall statues overturn, / And broils root out the work of masonry,

War and other disturbances will destroy statues and monuments,

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

But poetry, which memorializes you, cannot be destroyed by these means.

Gainst death, and all oblivious enmity / Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room

You shall outlast death and all other forces that seek to destroy things

Even in the eyes of all posterity / That wear this world out to the ending doom.

Even for future generations.

So, till the judgment that yourself arise, / You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

So you will live through this poem until judgment day.


In this sonnet , the speaker of the poem claims that his powerful rhyme will outlast marble and gilded monuments, keeping the youth’s memory alive until the Judgement Day. As in many of Shakespeare’s sonnets, the passage of time is a major theme. Here Time is portrayed predominantly as a negative force connected with death and decay. Line 3, for example, personifies time as a sluttish character, who besmears human attempts to achieve immortality by building stone monuments. 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 Judgement, the Judeo-Christian idea of apocalypse and an end of time.

This poem is predominantly concerned with the human desire to be remembered and immortalized in an attempt to overcome death. The poem suggests a strong awareness of the inevitability of death; images of the aging effects of time and the destructive results of wasteful war are emphasized. Worse than death, the sonnet suggests, is the force that conspire to ensure that an individual is forgotten, such as war’s quick fire and the all oblivious enmity of other people. 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. The sonnet itself (this powerful rhyme), however, is upheld as a vehicle of immortality that will not be destroyed. You live in this, declares the poet in the last line of the sonnet, suggesting that the youth to which the poem is addressed can somehow be preserved through the poem, which is immune to physical destruction. The last line of the poem also connects love with eternity and immortality by asserting that despite death, the youth will always dwell in lover’s eyes. This phrase suggests that while the body and self are lost and forgotten, love is eternal; the youth will somehow live in the eyes of all lovers who might read the poem throughout time. While this sonnettakes a defiant stand against oblivion, the speaker’s attitude towards death can be seen as ultimately ambiguous. L. C. Knights in his 1934 essay on Shakespeare’s Sonnets commented: In all the sonnets [which promise some form of immortality], it is the contemplation of change, not the boasting and defiance, that produces the finest poetry; they draw their value entirely from the evocation of that which is said to be defied or triumphed over.

What is a SONNET?
The sonnet is a lyric poem of fourteen lines.
The term “sonnet” derives its meaning from the word sonet and the Italian word sonetto, both meaning “little song” and “little sound”.
Solved Questions:

I) Multiple Choice Questions:

A.’Gainstdeath 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.

1.What does the poet suggest here?
a)To become a hero in the eyes of the future generation
b)To forget death
c)To forget all enmity
d)To wait till doomsday

2.Posterity will come to know about the poet’s friends—
(a) .By his recorded or written memory of life
b).By the poet’s powerful rhyme
c) By this sonnet only
d) By the monuments gilded by him

3. “Pace forth” means——
a)Walk ahead
b)Come ahead
c)Stride forwards
d)To be in race

A. Answers
1 (c) 2 ( a)3 ( c)

B. So, till the judgment that yourself arise, you live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes

1.The poet is addressing
a)His father
b)The person he loves
c)Powerful rulers

2. One should wait till—–
a) One’s death
b)One’s biography is written
c)One creates an example for posterity
d)The day of the last judgment

3. These lines convey the message—-
a)One must act in order to be loved by all
b)One gets justice in the doomsday
c)Everything comes to an end
d)Poetry immortalizes friend

B. Answers
1. (b)2.(d)3( d)

II) Answer in 30-40 words:

a)How according to the poet, will his beloved outlive monument and time?
According to the poet, his beloved, is captured in this sonnet and therefore shall outlivethe marble and gilded monuments built by the princes, because the monumentsshall get spoiled by time.

b) How does the poet immortalize his beloved?
The poet immortalizes his beloved by stating that his beloved shall live forever in this sonnet and in the eyes of posterity. Also she will wear out this world till the judgment day and outlive it.

c) What is the moral of the poem?
The moral of the poem is that literary art is not affected by time, though marble andgilded monuments are. They are ravaged by time but it will have no effect on his beloved who is a living record in this sonnet. Time is shown as a great leveler and destroyer here.


I Multiple Choice Questions:

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

1.The rich and powerful got ornate monuments made in order to —-
a)show off their wealth
b)show their position
c)show their artistic talent
d)be remembered till posterity

2.The poet addresses his sonnet to
i) time b) war c) the person he loves d) powerful rulers

3.The rhyme scheme of this stanza is —-
i)aabb ii) abab iii) abba iv) abbb

II Answer the following in 30-40 words each:

1. What is the central idea of the poem?
2. How does the poet glorify the work of art such as poetry?
3. What are the things that last for centuries?
4. What does the poet think of time?
5. What efforts have been made to thwart the ravages of time and what has been the result?
6. Why do you think the rich and powerful people get monuments and statue erected in their memory?
7. Describe how the monuments and statues brave the ravages of time. Why does the poet refer to Time as being sluttish?
8. The poet says that neither forces of nature nor wars can destroy his poetry.In fact, even godly powers of Mars will not have a devastating effect on his rhyme. What quality of the poet is revealed through these lines?
9. What comparison does Shakespeare draw between poetry and monuments?
10) How have the effects of war been described in this sonnet?
11) How does Shakespeare hope his dear friend to enjoy immortality?
12) What according to Shakespeare is more enduring- his poetry or the ornate gilded monuments? How?
13. How according to Shakespeare, can poetry withstand the devastating effect of hostile forces of nature or deadly engines of war?

III) Long Answer Questions:

1.What is the theme of the poem?
2.Which of two is more powerful-poetry or wars? Why?
3.Explain briefly the reference of time in the poem ‘Not Marble, Nor the Gilded monuments’?
4.How does the poet call his beloved, in the second quatrain?
5.Briefly comment on the poetic devices used in the poem, Not marble, nor the gilded monuments’, by William Shakespeare.

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