Sonnet 55 Name- Ishita Trivedi Grade – 10M Subject – English Mar’s favourite Rhyme Written by William Shakespeare the renowned “Sonnet 55” is a lyrical poem that effectively states his idea of immortality. Throughout the three quatrains Shakespeare portrays the subject and certain aspects of the theme as stated in the couplet. The profound theme that the poet explores is the mightiness of words over time. The persona addresses his beloved, recounting how her beauty shall live on till eternity in “this powerful rhyme” outracing all the precious monuments and stones in this arduous race against time.
The use of the figurative languages in this poem illuminates how words can outweigh death, and immortality can continue to live on. The persona commences the sonnet with lines: “Not marble, nor the glided monuments/ Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme”. These two lines immediately funnel the reader towards the theme of the poem as the persona symbolically compares the monuments to the lyrics of poems. The persona believes that poetry is a preserver of immortality.
He immediately confronts the reader with the subject of this poem – ‘preserver of immortality’, by using imagery and diction such as “gilded monuments”. These beautiful gold plated monuments are built in the remembrance of the princes and preserve their memories. However as the poet compares the power of poetry to monument in the next line he also announces to the reader his idea of immortality. The poet believes that immortality can outlive time through “these contents” however the monuments surrender to the age of time as the persona explains in the next quatrain.
In the next quatrain, the persona further explores the theme however through a different comparison. Throughout this quatrain the poet supports his views about immortality by comparing the mightiness of this poetry, which is preserving immortality, against war, that shall destroy everything. The poet personifies war as “wasteful war” which when shall “overturns statues”, and destroys everything. However “these contents”, the sonnet, will still live on until eternity.
Overcoming war itself is a strong representation of the strength of words of this lyrical poem. The persona further glorifies the power of this “powerful” poem by using strong allusions such as “Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn/ The living record of your memory. ” Mars being a powerful Roman god of war is also observed as the God of death. His sword is said to burn every vital soul; however, Mar’s power can not destroy the personified “living records” of the persona’s beloved.
The power of the sonnet above all “obvious enmities” is exposed by this allusion as the poem not only survives against all natural and human forces but also out rules war and death. Furthermore, this power of the sonnet, to live on until the “ending doom”, is supported in the next lines that the persona quotes – “Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room/ Even in the eyes of all prosperity”. In these lines the persona addresses directly to the beauty of his beloved.
He argues that on the day when the mortal world comes to an end, the sonnet shall still find praise, even in the eyes of the “posterity” that brought the devastating destruction. The persona ends the beautiful sonnet by sharing his thought about the about the judgment in the couplets. The persona explains that after the destruction of the world, as explained in the couplets, until the judgement day the persona’s beloved shall live on in this sonnet. She shall “arise [herself]” to such height that soon she’ll be standing forth with her lover, the persona of the poem.
The final lines of the sonnet support the theme of the poem by expressing how the persona will live on and “dwell in the lover’s eyes” until the end of time. Also in the couplet, the poet finally reveals the theme of the sonnet – How immortality can live through words, the poem, out lasting all other preservers of immortality like gilded monuments. Throughout the sonnet Shakespeare has argued the dominance of words as the preserver of immortality over the beautiful stones and marbles.
He reflects on the theme of the poem throughout the three quatrains using different comparisons and other figurative languages. The poet uses strong allusion such as to create an impression of the power of words in the readers mind. The figurative languages used in the poem leave the reader convinced the poetry is the ultimate preserver of immortality. The persona believes that this poem will continue to live on until the last soul in this world reads it, making the sonnet eternal. It will surpass all the human efforts and ravages of time to preserve the eternal beauty in the sonnet.