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William Shakespeare, Sonnet lv

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


line 2: [Compare Horace, Odes III.xxx, "Exegi monumentum aere perennius / regalique situ pyramidum altius...", "I have raised a monument more lasting than copper, higher than the royal structures of pyramids...".] [ Back to text ]

Most notes to Shakespeare's sonnets are from Charles Knight's edition, but those in square brackets are mine.