Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments Summary, Explanation, Class 10 English Poem, Difficult Words, Literary devices


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CBSE class 10 English Poem 3 Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments Summary, Explanation

Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments Summary and explanation of the poem along with meanings of difficult words and literary devices used in the poem. Also, the Summary is followed by a detailed explanation of the lesson . All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson.This page includes complete notes on the chapter Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments


About the author

William Shakespeare
Born at Stratford – Upon – Avon


William Shakespeare was an English Poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest dramatist. He is considered as the father of English Literature. Sometime between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, at the age of 49, where he died after three years. He is often called England’s national poet. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were primarily comedies and histories. Some of his famous tragic plays include Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear and Othello.


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Sonnet- A sonnet is a poetic form which originated in Italy. The term sonnet is derived from the Italian word ‘sonetto’which means little poem. By the thirteenth century it signified a poem of fourteen lines that follows a strict rhyme scheme and specific structure.


Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments Summary


Given below is the summary of Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments. You can also see the video explaining the details

Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments is the 55th sonnet written by William Shakespeare. It tells about the limitations of worldly glory and grandeur (impressiveness) All the great monuments, memorials and statues erected by princes, rulers and the rich to perpetuate (maintain) their memory are subject to decay, destruction and deterioration. (failure) The ravages of time and the agents of destruction destroy and damage all such monuments and memorials. Only the powerful rhyme of the poet and great poetry will survive the ravages (destruction) of time. Through the written words of this poem, the poet will immortalize the memory of his friend till the day of the Last Judgment.


Not Marble Nor the Gilded Monuments Background and Summary of the poem CBSE Class 10 Poem



Not Marble nor the Gilded Monuments Poem Explanation


Quatrain 1-

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments

Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;

But you shall shine more bright in these contents

Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time

gilded: covered with gold; gold-plated

these contents: refers to this poetry

unswept stone: a stone monument left uncared for

besmear’d: tarnished

sluttish: of unclean habits and behavior

The poet says that this piece of poetry will remain alive longer than the stone statues and gold – plated monuments built by royal men. (The royal men build statues and monuments so that they become immortal and are remembered by the future generations).  The poet’s beloved soldier referred to as ‘you’ shall be remembered through this powerful poetry. In comparison to the statues which will be neglected and wear out with the passage of time, the poetry will remain shining and fresh as ever. Through the poetry, the poet’s beloved will also shine for all times to come.


Quatrain 2 –

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

broils: tumult, fighting, disturbances, esp. in war

work of masonry: refers to monuments built by masons

Mars: the god of war

Sword: a weapon with a long metal blade

quick: lively, fast moving, searching out

living record: this written memory of your life which continues after you are dead

The poet says that wars are wasteful as they destroy the statues built by the royal men. Such fights are destructive as they destroy the great monuments and turn them into ruins. This poetry that has been written in the memory of the brave man cannot be destroyed even by the greatest warrior Mars. It will survive through all the wars.


Quatrain 3

‘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

Gainst: against

oblivious enmity: enmity which is forgetful of everything and so seeks to destroy everything

pace forth: stride forwards

posterity: future generations

doom: doomsday; the day on which the Last Judgment will occur

Even after his death and in the face of all his enemies, the brave man shall remain alive through this poem. All the generations that will be born on this Earth till the end of the world will read this poem and praise the poet’s beloved.



Couplet –

So, till the judgment that yourself arise,

You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.
judgement: the day of the last judgement
Dwell: live

The poet refers to the ‘Judgement day’ when the dead will arise out of their graves and Jesus Christ will descend on the Earth to judge their acts. He says that till the day of judgement when his beloved will arise out of his grave, he will remain alive through this poem. Everyone who reads the poem will praise the brave man and thus, he shall live in the eyes of his beloved.


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Not Marble Nor the Gilded Monuments Explanation, Literary devices, meanings CBSE Class 10



Literary devices in the poem


1. Allusion – reference to ‘Mars’ – the God of war and ‘Judgement’ – the day of judgement.


2. Alliteration – ‘when wasteful wars’ – ‘w’ sound repeated, ‘shall shine’ – ‘sh’ sound repeated


3. Personification – ‘Time’ has been called a ‘slut’ and thus, personified. This poetry has been personified when called ‘living record’.


4. Repetition – ‘shall’ and ‘nor’ repeated to create musical effect


5. Epithet – an adjective or adjectival phrase used to describe a distinctive quality of a person or thing. ‘Sluttish’ describes time, ‘besmeared’ describes statues, ‘wasteful’ describes wars.


6. Imagery – visual imagery is used in ‘unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time’ as the reader can imagine statues which become ruins with the passage of time and ‘When wasteful war shall statues overturn And broils root out the work of masonry’ as the reader can imagine the destruction caused by wars.


Question and answers

Q. On the basis of your understanding of the poem, answer the following questions by ticking the correct choice

a) The rich and powerful got ornate monuments made in order to

i) Show of their wealth

ii) Display their power

iii) Show their artistic talent

iv) Be remembered till posterity

A. iv) Be remembered till posterity


(b) The poet addresses his sonnet to

i) Time

ii) War

iii) The person he loves

iv) Powerful rulers

A. iii) The person he loves


(c) In the line ‘The living record of your memory’, living record refers to 

i) The sonnet the poet has written for his friend

ii) an existing statue of his friend

iii) his friend who lives in the poet’s memory

iv) the autobiography of the poet’s friend

A. i) The sonnet the poet has written for his friend


(d) The poet’s tone in the poem is

i) Despairing

ii) Optimistic

iii) Loving

iv) Admiring

A. ii) Optimistic


(e) The poem is set in

i) The place where the poet meets his friend

ii)A battlefield where Mars is fighting a battle

iii) A city ravaged by war

iv) The poet’s study where he is writing

A. iv) The poet’s study where he is writing


Answer the following questions briefly.

Q. Why do you think the rich and powerful people get monuments and statues erected in their memory?


A. The rich and powerful men get statues and monuments erected in their memory so that they are remembered by the future generations who will be born on this Earth after their death. They want to immortalize themselves.


Q. Describe how the monuments and statues brave the ravages of time.


A. The statues are made of stone and the monuments are covered with gold so that they remain intact over a long period of time. Thus, these cannot be damaged easily.


Q. Why does the poet refer to Time as being sluttish?


A. Time has been personified here as a slut which means being disloyal and untrustworthy. The poet calls time sluttish as it is not loyal to anyone. Just as a slut, loses its charm and beauty with time, the princes and the powerful, who enjoyed great privileges and popularity at one time get lost and forgotten with the passage of time.

The ornate monuments and statues that they get erected to perpetuate their names even after their death stand neglected after some time and eventually, they are tarnished by wars.

Hence, time displays its disloyalty towards once all-powerful kings. The minds and the morals of the people change with the changing times. Wasteful wars, conflicts, etc dominate the cultural changes of the times. Unfortunately, the practices and behavior of the people get sluttish and unclean with the change in their time. Thus, the poet refers time as ‘sluttish’.


Q. 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?


A. These lines show that the poet is confident and optimistic. He believes that the poetry cannot be destroyed either by the forces of nature or by the wars. It will be read by the future generations and the bravery of the poet’s beloved will survive in the hearts of the readers.


Q. 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 scheme


Quatrain 1


Comparison between poetry and monuments.

Quatrain 2


Ravages of time on monuments

contrasted with _________________________

Quatrain 3


The recorded memory of ________________




Poetry immortalises friend





Rhyme scheme


Quatrain 1


Comparison between poetry and monuments.

Quatrain 2


Ravages of time on monuments

contrasted with living records of brave men

Quatrain 3


The recorded memory of the brave men shall find praise for them till all posterity



Poetry immortalises friend


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


A. The instances of alliteration in the poem are as follows –

1. Line 1 – ‘marble monuments’ – ‘m’ sound is repeated.

2. Line 2 – ‘prices powerful’ – ‘p’ sound is repeated.

3. Line 3 – ‘shall shine’ – ‘sh’ sound is repeated

4. Line 4 – ‘unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time’ – ‘s’ and ‘t’ sound repeated.

5. Line 5 – ‘when wasteful war’ – ‘w’ sound is repeated
6. Line 12 – ‘wear this world’ – ‘w’ sound is repeated.


Q. Identify Shakespeare’s use of personification in the poem

A. Personification is used in the following instances –

1. “sluttish time”- The poet refers to time as being ‘sluttish’ which means that it is dirty and untidy.

2. “The living record of your memory” – The record is this poetry and addressing it as ‘living’, the poet has personified it.


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