Death The Leveller Poem by James Shirley

Death The Leveller

Rating: 3.5

The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against Fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and Crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crookèd scythe and spade.

Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill:
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
They tame but one another still:
Early or late
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath
When they, pale captives, creep to death.

The garlands wither on your brow,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds!
Upon Death's purple altar now
See where the victor-victim bleeds.
Your heads must come
To the cold tomb:
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.

Yvonne Morrow 06 February 2008

I love this poem, with its strength and truth nicely interwoven.

27 4 Reply
M. Deepananda 22 November 2019

Buddhism has revealed this real truth of the universe. It also describes this poem.

4 1 Reply
Roisin 14 August 2019

Amazing that a poem written 500 years ago speaks of equality. Universal truth...." there is no armour against fate"

4 0 Reply
Fran Morrison 10 December 2020

yup, stark truth, no heaven going

0 0 Reply
Tom Garvin 22 October 2017

This and Longfellow's psalm of life are excellent guides

2 3 Reply
Jacques Halsey 16 April 2016

This poem was said to have terrified O.Cromwell!

6 2 Reply
Dead Man Taiking 14 December 2012

all things faint to dust

13 4 Reply
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