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Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments (Sonnet LV) -- William Shakespeare

Yesterday's parody made me realise that we hadn't yet run the original...
(Poem #1574) Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments (Sonnet LV)
 Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
 Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rime;
 But you shall shine more bright in these contents
 Than unswept stone, besmear’d 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.
-- William Shakespeare
This is a love poem with a twist. Or, at least, it is *nominally* a love
poem. What it really is is a poem that is, in the most literal sense, full
of itself - an extended boast about Shakespeare's skill at writing poetry.
Now don't get me wrong, I love this sonnet, and would even rank it among
the Bard's best. It is indeed a monumental tribute to Shakespeare's poetry
that the sonnet rings true, that it doesn't grate on the ear the way
less-worthy bragging is wont to do. But stripped of the beauty of the words,
what it is essentially saying is "You will be immortal because I am a great
poet, and this is a great poem".

On a somewhat tangential note, one thing that never fails to impress me when
reading Shakespeare's sonnets is how many ever-fresh variations he manages
to ring up on a bare handful of themes. "Age cannot wither her, nor custom
stale / Her infinite variety", wrote Shakespeare of Cleopatra, and I can
think of no more fitting epitaph for the man himself.

Links:

 We've run plenty of Shakespeare (one might even get the idea he's a
 somewhat popular poet):
[broken link] http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/index_poet_S.html#Shakespeare

 For another parody of a trite sentiment in poetic clothing, see A. D. Hope's
 "His Coy Mistress to Mr. Marvell" [Poem #1568]

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