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Class 10 English Literature Reader Chapter 9 Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments

Chapter 9 Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments 

Sonnet 55 builds up on Horace’s theme of poetry outlasting physical monuments to the dead. In Horace’s poetry, the poet is himself immortalised by his poetry but in this sonnet, Shakespeare seeks to build a figurative monument to his beloved, the fair lord. The fair lord is not described or revealed is any way in this sonnet. Instead, the sonnet just addresses the idea of immortality through verse. The ravages of time is a recurrent theme in the sonnets of Shakespeare. So sonnet 55 is one of the most famous works of Shakespeare and a notable deviation from other sonnets in which he appears insecure about his relationships and his self-worth. Here we find an impassioned burst of confidence as the poet claims to have the power to keep his friend’s memory alive evermore.
1 – 4 lines – (Not marble …………………. sluttish time) The first stanza talks about how time will not destroy the poem, though it will destroy the world’s most magnificent structures. He wishes to say that poetry is stronger than these structures. At the very beginning, the poet says that whether it is marble or gold plated monuments of princes, all will get destroyed but the magnificence of his poetry will live. The subject of poetry will remain bright and will shine forever in comparison to a neglected stone monument which is spoilt with Time. Time is compared to a slut who loses her glow and beauty with time. Shakespeare compares Time unfavourably to a female subject.
5 – 8 lines – (when wasteful …………………. memory) These lines begin with a new idea. Shakespeare has so far spoken of two destructive forces : time and war. He is here describing war destroying stone structures, which relates back to the ‘marble’ and ‘gilded monuments’ in line 1, that likewise do not last. The poet says that when destructive wars will take place, they will destroy statues also and due to its tumult all the work of the masons will be destroyed. Even the Sword of Mars, God of war, or the destructive fires of war will be able to destroy your memory. The poet is basically saying that even wars will not destroy the written memories of your life for they will survive even after deadly wars.
Lines 9 – 14 – (Gainst death …………………. Lover’s eyes) This stanza does not talk about survival, but of human appreciation. The poet continues to praise his subject. There is still a suggestion of survival, but survival of human appreciation and not of the verse itself. Doom refers to the Judgement day, suggesting that this poetic record of his subject will survive and be praised to the end of time. Slight deviation of the metre in the words ‘‘Even in’’ creates emphasis for this permanency.
The poet is saying that death and enmity destroys everything but poetry written on the subject will survive, will move ahead, find place and will be immortalised for all generations to come. Everything else will be judged on the Judgement Day. The ending couplet is a summary of the survival theme. The couplet not only summarises the rest of the sonnet, but also seems to contradict itself. ‘‘Judgement’’ goes with the talk of the judgement day in the last stanza, but implies that the subject is alive and will be judged on that day, but ‘ dwelling in lover’s eyes’’ suggest that the subject is love itself. Thus Shakespeare seems to consider the subject so lovely that he is a personification of love, which could be conquered and to which no poetry can do justice. So the theme of the sonnet is that the subject will be honoured forever in the verses, though the verses are unworthy of them.


  • outlive : live afterwards
  • rhyme : poetry
  • overturn : destroy
  • room : place, space
  • dwell : live



  • ‘Gilded monuments’: Shakespeare personified these by giving them life–spans.
  • Posterity : It is given a human characteristic of ‘sight’
  • Mars : war is given the title of ‘mars’. This is rooted in Greek mythology, as Mars is the God of war.
  • Time : as a slut. Just as the beauty of a slut undergoes great changes, so does time usher in great changes.


This means exaggeration, but too much exaggeration which sometimes becomes unbelievable. In this poem, the poet claims that no amount of time or change can obliterate the words he writes, shall make his reader understand the awesome power as he as a wordsmith wields.
Summary Of Not Marble, Nor The Gilded Monuments

Question 1.
Look at the following picture carefully.
(a) What has Time been portrayed as ? Why ?
(b) What are the other symbols associated with Time ?
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 9
(a) Time here has been portrayed as a human being having the banner in his hands. It somehow looks like Lord Christ. It has been portrayed so because there is nothing more powerful than man, though man is non-entity before time. Secondly, time has been portrayed as a human being because the poem is meant for them only.
(b) There are other symbols associated with Time, Sun, for instance, Nature and other aspects of Nature.
Question 2.
(a) What are the things that last for centuries ? List a few things around you that will survive four to five hundred years into the future.
Not Marble Nor The Gilded Monuments Line By Line Explanation
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 9 Not Marble, Nor the Gilded Monuments 3
(b) Think of things that will perish and/or be forgotten with the passage of time.
NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 9 Not Marble, Nor the Gilded Monuments 4
Not Marble Nor The Gilded Monuments Question And Answers
Question 3.
The word “sonnet” is derived from the Italian word sonetto, meaning “a little sound” or “a little song.” A Sonnet is a poem of 14 lines with a structured rhyme scheme in which a thought about a subject is developed thoroughly.
You will read two sonnets on the powerful effects of Time.
For students to read. No questions have been asked in it.
Question 4.
Listen to a recording of the sonnet ‘Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments’ by William Shakespeare played by your teacher. You could also listen to it on youtube at
For students to listen. No questions have been asked in it.
Question 5.
On the basis of your understanding of Shakespeare’s sonnet, answer the following questions by ticking the correct options.
(a) The rich and powerful got ornate monuments made in order to _____
(i) show off their wealth
(ii) display their power
(iii) show their artistic talent
(iv) be remembered till posterity.
(b) The poet addresses his sonnet to _____
(i) time
(ii) war
(iii) the person he loves
(iv) powerful rulers.
(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.
(d) The poet’s tone in the poem is _____
(i) despairing
(ii) optimistic
(iii) loving
(iv) admiring,
(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) be remembered till posterity
(b) → (iii) the person he loves
(c) → (iii) his friend who lives in the poet’s memory
(d) → (iii) loving
(e) → (iv) the poet’s study where he is writing
Question 6.
Answer the following questions briefly.
(a) Why do you think the rich and powerful people get monuments and statues erected in their memory ? (V. Imp.)
Why do the rich and powerful get monuments made ? (CBSE 2015)
(b) Describe how the monuments and statues brave the ravages of time. (V. Imp.) (CBSE 2014)
What according to Shakespeare outlives the ravages of time ? (CBSE 2014)
(c) Why does the poet refer to Time as being sluttish ? (V. Imp.) (CBSE 2015)
(d) 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) The rich and powerful people get monuments and statues erected in their memory. They do so for being remembered till posterity.
(b) The monuments and statues brave the ravages of time. However, in doing so they get spoiled, disfigured and broken. This is also if they are not taken care of.
(c) The poet refers to Time as being sluttish because Time spoils the marbled or gilded monuments. It discolours them, breaks them or makes them dirty through its agencies. These agencies are like air, rain, natural vegetation etc.
(d) The quality of the poet is clearly revealed through these lines. It is the immortality of his verse and the permanence of his poetic or literary art. It is true that like Time or = Nature, literary art is also permanent and immortal. That’s why, we have poets and artists through their works who have lived thousands of years before and shall remain ever. They have become immortal through literary art.
Question 7.
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 (c)_________
Quatrain 3
The recorded memory of (e)______ posterity.
Poetry immortalises friend.
(a) ab ab
(b) cd cd
(c) living record of the poet’s beloved’s memory
(d) ef ef
(e) his beloved shall find room even in the eyes of
(f) g g
Question 8.
(a) The poet uses alliteration to heighten the musical quality of the sonnet. Working in pairs* underline the examples of alliteration in the poem.
(b) Identify Shakespeare’s use of personification in the poem.
(a) Students to work in pairs. The following information shall help them :
  1. Unswept stone besmear’d with sluttish time
  2. When wasteful war
  3. Nor Mars his sword nor war’s
  4. Praise shall still
  5. Lover’s eyes

(b) The living record of your memory’ has been personified here in the sonnet as a man. He shall pace forth against death etc. He shall live even in the eyes of all posterity.

Class 10 English Footprints Without Feet

  1. Chapter 1- A Triumph of Surgery
  2. Chapter 2- The Thief's Story
  3. Chapter 3- The Midnight Visitor
  4. Chapter 4- A Question of Trust
  5. Chapter 5- Footprints without Feet
  6. Chapter 6- The Making of a Scientist
  7. Chapter 7- The Necklace
  8. Chapter 8- The Hack Driver
  9. Chapter 9- Bholi
  10. Chapter 10- The Book That Saved the Earth

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