On Shakespeare Questions and Answers
by John Milton

Start Your Free Trial

What is the summary of the poem "On Shakespeare"?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write10,656 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

This sonnet, Milton's first published poem, says that no monument or "relic" built to honor Shakespeare can ever rival Shakespeare's own work. His plays and poems are his monument. His words, flowing easily from his pen, are more magnificent and enviable than the tomb of any king: in fact, even kings would wish to entombed (preserved) in the "marble" of Shakespeare's words.

In the first six lines of the sonnet, Milton questions what need there is to build a monument to Shakespeare. He finds the whole idea puzzling. Why erect such a "weak witness" to the writer's name?

In the last eight lines, Milton continues by stating the Shakespeare built his own monument through the body of work he produced. His words impress themselves on us deeply.

One imagines that Shakespeare, who wrote sonnets expressing the idea that he was immortalizing his loved ones in verse, would appreciate this sonnet.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

lusie0520 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write147 answers

starTop subject is Literature

The sonnet “On Shakespeare” is a tribute from Milton to Shakespeare. 

What needs my Shakespear  for...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 523 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now














check Approved by eNotes Editorial