Death the Leveller – Pursuit of Poesy Friday (no.2)

Exercise number 1 in my pursuit of poesy is now up at ‘Scribbled Poetry’, click here.

Over here at the Gentleman Administrator’s emporium of history I turn our attention back to actual poets. After last weeks frivolity I thought it appropriate to return to more sober and dramatic things and as such I’m featuring a work from the royalist  playwright and poet, James Shirley (1596 1666). In addition to the text, which is worth reading out load dramatically to one’s self (preferably on a bus), is a video posted on youtube of a reading, which is both excellent and disturbing. Enjoy.

The Dance of Death

Death the Leveller

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 crooked 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.

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2 thoughts on “Death the Leveller – Pursuit of Poesy Friday (no.2)

  1. opoetoo

    Thank you for sharing this.
    The reading really made it hit home.
    Really incredible ,thanks again.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Death the Leveller – Pursuit of Poesy Friday (no.2) « The Gentleman Administrator -- Topsy.com

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