Class 10 Literature Reader

Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments

William Shakespeare


This is one of the famous sonnets by Shakespeare. Many writers have interpreted this sonnet in their own ways and you may find various controversies regarding the true meaning of the poem.

The true words and rhymes last forever. They outlive the strong monuments built by the mighty and the powerful. A true soul would outshine amidst the unwashed stones which may have been tarnished by the ravages of time. There are times when wars and natural disasters destroy the whole city and strong buildings are turned into rubble. True words survive even those ravages.

A great work of literature becomes immortal even after the death of its creator. Works of Shakespeare are very good examples of great literary work which have outlived their creator.

Exercise Questions

Multiple Choice Questions:

Question 1: The rich and powerful got ornate monuments made in order to _______________

  1. show off their wealth
  2. display their power
  3. show their artistic talent
  4. be remembered till posterity

    Answer: (d) Be remembered till posterity

Question 2: The poet addresses his sonnet to ________________________

  1. time
  2. war
  3. the person he loves
  4. powerful rulers

    Answer: (c) The person he loves

Question 3: In the line 'The living record of your memory', living record refers to ____________

  1. the sonnet the poet has written for his friend
  2. an existing statue of his friend
  3. his friend who lives in the poet's memory
  4. the autobiography of the poet's friend

    Answer: (a) The sonnet the poet has written for his friend

Question 4: The poet's tone in the poem is ____________________

  1. despairing
  2. optimistic
  3. loving
  4. admiring

    Answer: (b) Optimistic

Question 5: The poem is set in _______________________

  1. the place where the poet meets his friend
  2. a battlefield where Mars is fighting a battle
  3. a city ravaged by war
  4. the poet's study where he is writing

    Answer: (d) The poet’s study where he is writing

Answer the following questions briefly

Question 1: Why do you think the rich and powerful people get monuments and statues erected in their memory?

Answer: The rich and powerful often get monuments and statues erected in their memory. This practice has continued even in modern times. Such people often want them to be remembered by people of future generations.

Question 2: Describe how the monuments and statues brave the ravages of time.

Answer: Monuments and statues brave the ravages of time in various ways. They withstand the vagaries of nature and get somewhat tarnished in the process. Some of the monuments may survive for a few hundred years; like the Taj Mahal. Some of them may survive for a few thousand years; like the pyramids. While doing so, these monuments often tell us about their glorious days.

Question 3: Why does the poet refer to Time as being sluttish?

Answer: In this case, the poet is referring to the tarnishing effect which time can have on many things. For example; what once may have been a magnificent monument is no more than ruins; in the name of some of the famous historical monuments, e.g. sphinx and pyramids.

Question 4: The poet says that neither forces of nature nor wars can destroy his poetry. In fact, even godly powers of Mars will not have a devastating effect on his rhyme. What quality of the poet is revealed through these lines?

Answer: The poet if confident about the timeless nature of great works of art and literature.

Question 5: Shakespeare's sonnet has been divided into three quatrains of 4 lines each followed by a rhyming couplet. Each quatrain is a unit of meaning. Read the poem carefully and complete the following table on the structure of the poem.


Rhyme SchemeTheme
Quatrain 1Rhyme and timeComparison between poetry and monuments.
Quatrain 2Masonry and memory Ravages of time on monuments contrasted with ______
Quatrain 3Enmity and posterity The recorded memory of ___________posterity
CoupletArise and eyesPoetry immortalises friend

Question 6: The poet uses alliteration to heighten the musical quality of the sonnet. Working in pairs, underline the examples of alliteration in the poem.

Answer: When words beginning with same consonant are repeated in a line or stanza, this is called alliteration. Example: Marble and monuments, Prince and powerful. Many more examples can be found in this poem, e.g. shall shine, wasteful war, wear this world, etc.

Question 7: Identify Shakespeare's use of personification in the poem.

Answer: Powerful princes have been personified in gilded monuments. Ravenous nature of time has been personified in the word ‘sluttish’.

When something is personified by some other thing (usually some inanimate thing) this is called personification.