Here's the great William Shakespeare on the occasion of his 450 Birthday reading Sonnet 55 "Not Marble,Nor the Gilded Monuments" If historical guesswork is to be believed, William Shakespeare was born 450 years ago Today 23rd April 2014, and died on the same date, 23 April, 52 years later. The poet and playwright was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, the third child of eight to his middle-class parents, John and Mary Shakespeare. Within 30 years, he would forge a career in the theatre that would still make him the world's most celebrated playwright five centuries later.
Sonnet 55 is one of the best and most critically acclaimed sonnets of the 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It is a member of the Fair Youth sequence, in which the poet expresses his love towards a young man.
To many scholars, sonnet 55 is a poem about time and immortalization. The speaker claims that his beloved will wear out this world to the ending doom. According to Alison Scott, the speaker's poem won't last much compared to his beloved, even though his beloved is immortalised in the poem, adhering to a larger theme of giving and possessing that runs through many of Shakespeare's sonnets. David Kaula, however, emphasizes the concept of time slightly differently. He argues that the sonnet traces the progression of time, from the physical endeavours built by man (monuments, statues, masonry), as well as the primeval notion of warfare depicted through the image of "Mars his sword" and "war's quick fire," to the concept of the Last Judgment. The young man will survive all of these things through the verses of the speaker.
Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this pow'rful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these conténts
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 yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.
Neither marble nor the gold-plated monuments of princes will outlive this powerful poetry. You will shine more brightly in these poems than those stones that crumble to dust, blackened by time. When devastating war overturns statues, with its battles uprooting buildings, neither the god of war nor his quick-burning fires shall destroy this record of you. Despite death and ignorant enmity, you shall continue on. All those generations to come, down to the weary end of time, will devote space to praising you. So until Judgment Day, when you are raised up, you will live in this poetry, and in the eyes of lovers who read this.
All rights are reserved on this video recording copyright Jim Clark 2014
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