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This Shakespearean sonnet makes a very bold claim about the power of the speaker's poetry, but it would seem that the fact that we are still reading the poetry today proves that he was right!
Sonnet 55 begins with the claim or thesis that neither "marble, notguilded monuments of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme." He extends this idea by explaining that the goodness of the unnamed person he is writing about in this poem about will last forever and not be "besmeared with sluttish (dirty) time."
He continues his point in the next quatrain when he explains that wars destroy things that are made by men, but the person who is the subject of this poem will not be wrecked, but live on in the poem which will serve as a "living memory." The last quatrain continues this theme, saying that because of the poem, even the death of the person will not end him or cause oblivion (being forgotten) because he or she will "pace forth" in the words of the poem until "the ending doom." This last line in a reference to Doomsday or the Final Judgement Day saying that as long as people are around to read the sonnet(s) then the person will "live in this"(sonnet). The last words of the poem say that the person will "dwell in lover's eyes." I suspect that Shakespeare is commenting on the stereotype that it is lovers who tend to read the sonnets, and it is through lovers or lovers of poetry that the memory of the person will live on.
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