Syntax in Sonnet 55

Syntax Examples in Sonnet 55:

Sonnet 55 3

"burn..."   (Sonnet 55)

According to Stephen Booth, the negation within this line — “nor mars,” “nor war’s” — contrive to make the reader unaware that swords cannot burn. Shakespeare uses this syntax in order to demonstrate poetry’s ability to manipulate the reader’s mind.

"Than unswept stone,..."   (Sonnet 55)

The syntax of these lines obscures the fact that “unswept stone” would not shine. Shining “more bright” therefore becomes a metaphor for enduring memory. By contrast, the “unswept stone” is subject to oblivion. The poem is better able to preserve the youth because it preserves his memory and essence rather than just his image.

"Not marble..."   (Sonnet 55)

The poem opens with a negative construction, which underscores the central argument. The speaker claims that a poem is a more effective means of memorializing a person than a stone statue or monument. By opening with “not,” the speaker compellingly undermines marble and monuments.