This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 55. Continue reading for complete analysis and meaning in the modern text. For the complete list of 154 sonnets, check the collection of Shakespeare Sonnets with analysis. It is highly recommended to buy “The Monument” by Hank Whittemore, which is the best book on Shakespeare Sonnets.
Shakespeare Sonnet 55 (Original Text)
Not marble nor the gilded monumentsOf princes shall outlive this pow’rful rhyme,But you shall shine more bright in these conténtsThan 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 burnThe living record of your memory.‘Gainst death and all oblivious enmityShall you pace forth; your praise shall still find roomEven in the eyes of all posterityThat wear this world out to the ending doom.So till the judgment that yourself arise,You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.
Shakespeare Sonnet 55 Modern Text (Translation)
Shakespeare Sonnet 55 Analysis
Shakespeare says that no statues or decorated monuments “nor the gilded monuments” can outlast the powerful poem he is writing. “Shall outlive this powerful rhyme” The fair youth will shine even brighter “you shall shine more bright “ in his poems “in these contents” and even more than dirty stone statues that grow old and dull with time “unswept stone besmear’d with sluttish time”.
When war will destroy the statues and overturn them “wasteful war shall statues overturn”, and conflict destroy the mason’s art, “roils root out the work of masonry,” not even the sword of the Greek God Mars “Mars his sword” or the fire of war can burn “nor war’s quick fire” shall burn away the verses of his poems which are the record of the youth’s memory “record of your memory.”
Even against death “Gainst death” and his enemies “all-oblivious enmity” will the youth’s name succeed in living on “Shall you pace forth” where praise for him will always find a place “your praise shall still find room” and even in future generations of people “eyes of all posterity” who may survive till the end of humanity. “wear this world out to the ending doom”.
And that the youths name will live on till judgment day when he will rise from the dead (a reference to the Christian concept of judgment day when God will judge both living and dead and give life to the righteous people again). “the judgment that yourself arise” Till this time, the youth is immortalized “You live in this, “in poetry and lives in his lover’s eyes.