Wednesday 26 June 2024

Poem Explanation: Not Monuments, Nor Gilded Monuments (Sonnet 55): by William Shakespeare | Class 10 English #eduvictors

Poem Explanation:
Not Monuments, Nor Gilded Monuments (Sonnet 55):
by William Shakespeare

Class 10 - English 

Poem Explanation: Not Monuments, Nor Gilded Monuments (Sonnet 55): by William Shakespeare | Class 10 English #eduvictors

Stanza 1:

"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."

Word Meanings:

gilded: covered with gold; gold-plated

unswept stone: a stone monument left uncared for

besmear'd: tarnished

sluttish: of unclean habits and behaviour


Marble statues and grand monuments built by princes won't last as long as this powerful poem. In this poem, you will shine brighter and more beautifully than neglected stone, which is stained and eroded by time.

The poet states that the gold-plated monuments built by royalty will not be remembered by future generations, whereas this poem will endure longer than stone statues. Through this powerful verse, the poet's beloved, referred to as 'you', will shine forever. The poetry will remain vibrant and fresh, while the statues will be neglected and decay over time. 

Stanza 2:

"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."

Word Meanings:

broils: tumult, fighting, disturbances, esp. in war

Mars: the god of war

quick: lively, fast-moving, searching out

living record: this written memory of your life which continues after you are dead


Even when destructive wars destroy statues and conflicts and battles demolish buildings, neither the sword of the god of war (Mars) nor the fires of battle will be able to erase the living record of your memory preserved in this poem.

The poet remarks that wars are wasteful, as they destroy great monuments and turn them into ruins, causing destruction to the statues built by the royals.  Even the greatest warrior Mars cannot destroy it with his sword. The Brave man (referred as You) will remain alive through this poem even after his death. 

Stanza 3:

"'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."

Word Meanings:

'Gainst: Against

oblivious enmity: enmity which is forgetful of everything and so seeks to destroy everything

pace forth: stride forwards

posterity: future generations

doom: doomsday; the day on which the Last judgement will occur


Against death and all forces that seek to make you forgotten, you will continue to exist. Your praise will always find a place, even in the eyes of future generations who live on this earth until the end of time.

All the generations born will read this poem and praise the poet’s beloved till the end of the world.

Stanza 4:

"So, till the judgment that yourself arise,

You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes."

Word Meanings:

judgement: the day of the last judgement


So, until the final judgment day (when you die) then you rise again, you will live on in this poem and in the eyes and hearts of those who love you.

The poet refers to the 'Judgement Day' when Jesus Christ will return to Earth to judge our actions. He asserts that his beloved will remain alive through this poem until that day arrives. Upon reading the poem, everyone will praise the brave man and his deeds.


The poet describes time as a disloyal character, like a slut, meaning it can take away beauty and charm from princes and the powerful. Despite their privileges, they will lose their allure. However, the poet is confident and optimistic, believing neither war nor nature can destroy his poem. The poem addresses the unique theme of immortality that princes, rulers, and the wealthy seek. Shakespeare aims to create an everlasting monument through his poetry, which he believes will endure longer than stone and marble. He also mentions Mars, the Greek god of war, representing destruction and hostility.

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