Homework Help

Please explain Shakespeare's Sonnet 35 or Sonnet 55.

user profile pic

hassancc | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:20 AM via web

dislike 4 like

Please explain Shakespeare's Sonnet 35 or Sonnet 55.

5 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:46 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

In Sonnet 55 Shakespeare is telling his beloved that though time will end and ruin and destroy all things from marbled Greek and Roman ruins to works of masonry, his beloved will shine and live on because of the words written in Sonnet 55.  The first two lines say how the "monuments / Of princes" will not out live the Sonnet.  The next two lines promise that the beloved will "shine more bright' than "windswept stones " of castles or marble edifices weathered by time. Shakespeare goes on to say that neither war ("Mars") nor death nor oblivion shall erase the beloveds memory or praise that shall be known to all "posterity" and to all who live in the "world." He ends with a couplet saying that the beloved lives in "this" Sonnet and in "lover's eyes."

user profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:29 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 1 like

In Sonnet 35:

The first five lines are saying that the person the poem is addressed to should not feel bad -- everyone makes mistakes and all good things have bad sides (rose has thorns).

In the rest of the sonnet, the speaker is saying that even he is doing a bad thing.  He is defending the listener even though he is still mad at that person.  He hates and loves the listener at the same time.

In Sonnet 55

The whole poem is saying that the lover will be famous forever in this poem.  Famous people can have statues and tombstones, but those things can get knocked over and destroyed.  This poem will last forever and so its subject will also be famous forever.

I hope that helps you... I'm sorry, but I don't have space to be more detailed.

user profile pic

epollock | Valedictorian

Posted January 28, 2010 at 8:14 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 1 like

Sonnet 55, "Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments," is one of the most memorable of Shakespearian sonnets, treating the theme that human beings can share in eternal life only through the medium of art. The speaker addresses a loved one and determines that the poem itself is so strong an artifact that the listener will continue to live in it, “and dwell in lovers’ eyes” (line 14).

The speaker addresses a listener who is deeply respected and loved. We do not learn much about the “you,” except that the relationship with the speaker is a close one. The “you” and “your” pronoun referring to the unnamed listener occurs six times in the poem.

The powers of destruction mentioned in the poem are “sluttish time,” “wasteful war,” “broils,” “Mars his sword,” “war’s quick fire,” “death,” “all-oblivious enmity,” and the collective forgetfulness of “all posterity.” The speaker claims that his own poem (“powerful rhyme,” line 2) will survive all future destruction, because even though people, buildings, and institutions perish, the language will live on, and the poem is important enough to attract endless future interest.

The “living record of your memory” of line 8 refers to the poem itself, Sonnet 55. The idea is that even though the listener is unknown to readers, the “living record” still exists and the listener also therefore exists.

The subject of the poem is the impermanence of civilizations which may decay and which may be destroyed by war, as contrasted with the survival of a literate culture that may exist long after the lost civilizations in which it was produced. The theme of the poem is that love, art, and things of the mind confer universality and longevity, while specifics may be lost.

user profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 28, 2010 at 11:01 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 1 like

In Sonnet 35 by William Shakespeare, the author is feeling reflective, contemplative and even rueful. He seems to be allowing another person to forgive themselves - and himself too. He is saying that, in life the deeds we do are never black and white or cut and dried - always there is some degree of mistake, or blame or flaw. In Nature he sees this echoed in a cankered flower bud, or the silty deposits that will eventually form even in the purest silver fountain. Shakespeare is describing some kind of battle within the soul between good and evil, duty and temptation and is living through a loving/hating tug-of-love. Both express sorrow and regret but even by so doing, Shakespeare feels he is allowing himself to be robbed of something precious.

user profile pic

subrataray | High School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted April 22, 2010 at 9:50 PM (Answer #5)

dislike 1 like

Most of Shakespeare's sonnets may be looked upon as the mail-stones of psychic-history .From the stand -point of sonnet -35 , if we compare it with sonnet -18 , we would find how the poet's faith on his friend has turned into confusion .But the wise poet does not find fault with his friend , rather , taking pity on himself , he consoles his friend for the treason that his friend has committed .

Sonnet-35 , to me appears , as the detection of of the trespass of South Hampton to the poet's mistress(the Dark Lady).The poet requests his friend not to take seriously his misconduct and suffer from the sense of guilt .Stains and stigmas are everywhere in nature .For , roses have thorns ,fresh and clear mountains have mud at the bottom ,the shining Sun and Moon , are covered by clouds , and often some canker pollute the sweet bud .Hence his friend's action , though a wrong indeed , yet he should not grieve for that .

The poet's stay is love .His friend is a thief , but he is sweet .He feels that South Hampton is going to snatch away his lady from him , but he is not ready to lose his friend for the latter.s temptations to the lady .Hence the central issue of this sonnet is a conflict between love and sex .

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes