Sonnet 55

William Shakespeare

Edited by Jack Lynch

The copy-text is Shake-speares Sonnets Never Before Imprinted (London, 1609). I’ve regularized the use of i and j, u and v, but have otherwise preserved the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation of the original. The notes are my own.

Not marble, nor the guilded° monument, gilded, covered in gold
Of Princes shall out-live this powrefull rime,° poem
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Then unswept stone, besmeer’d° with sluttish° time smeared — dirty
When wastefull warre shall Statues over-turne,
And broiles° roote out the worke of masonry, battles
Nor Mars his sword, nor warres quick fire shall burne:
The living record of your memory.
Gainst death, and all oblivious emnity
Shall you pace forth, your praise shall stil finde roome,
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That weare this world out to the ending doome.
    So til the judgement that your selfe arise,
    You live in this, and dwell in lovers eies.


A difficult word. Perhaps it means the contents of this poem; perhaps it suggests containment of some sort.
Mars his
In early modern English, his is often used for the possessive. Mars his is Mars’s.
ending doome
The Last Judgment.
live in this
That is, you continue to live in this poem.