Sonnet 55

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, 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 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 your self arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

Talking directly to his beloved, the speaker begins with some confident words of assurance: no other memorials, however beautiful or permanent, can outdo this sonnet, which will live longer and shine brighter. Other human creations have to deal with time and violent war, but this poem escapes both of these downers.

And because this poem is a poem of praise, preserving the memory of the beloved's beauty and all-round awesomeness, there's good news: the beloved will also escape destruction. In fact, he will live comfortably inside the sonnet and the minds of readers until the end of the world itself.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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