3 Summary:James Shirley has chosen to write about a subject that make us feel uncomfortable i.e nature of Death. The Statement death is a leveller means that no matter how you have lived your life, when we die we all made equal. Everybody is brought to the same level death. The title is significant as death will level even kings and great warriors equally
4 Stanza 1The glories of our blood and state . Are shadows, not substantial things: There is no armour against Fate; Death lays his icy hand on kings:
5 ExplanationIn the opening of first stanza. Shirley is arguing that the splendor of our life and nation are merely clouds they are not important things. There is no shield that can save us from what is destined for us. Death has been personified given human qualities even if you are king you will eventually die because it is inevitable.
6 Stanza 2Sceptre and crown Must tumble down, And in the dust be equal made With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
7 ExplanationShirley explains that crown is above and other people are the bottom, saying that royalty is the top but it is not true we are all equal to each other. Using scythe and spade they are harvesting death making an image of death cutting people down and digging granes.
8 Stanza 3Some men with swords may recap the field, And plant fresh laurels where they kill; But their strong nerves at last must yield; They tame but one another still:
9 ExplanationShirley praising men who fought in battle with swords. They may win by killing others. But the strong nerves of even such men must at last bow before death. He describe the men of were brave. They can defeat one another only. They can’t defeat death.
10 Stanza 4Early or late They stoop to fate, And must give up their murmuring breath When they, pale captives, creep to death.
11 ExplanationIf you are young or old. Then it is inevitable that you will be die. When death overpowers them. They look like pale captives. Death ends all their pride.
12 Stanza 5The garlands wither on your brow; Then boast no more your mighty deeds Upon Death s purple altar now See where the victor victim bleeds.
13 ExplanationThe fame and honour won by you shall fade away after your death. We should not proud of our mighty achievements. We are mortal creatures. If we triumph over our enemies and victims and that we should look at our decisions in a new light because we may never have the chance to make it right again. He also mentioned a purple alter an alter has religious purpose and therefore he is mentioning religion and royalty.
14 Stanza 6Your heads must come To the cold tomb: Only the actions of the just Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.
15 ExplanationAccording to Shirley Your heads too, will have to lie under the cold tombs after your death only the good deeds or actions of men live after death and spread their fragrance all around us.
16 Word meanings Words Meanings Blood Descent Substantial important Scepter vergeCrooked round circledSpade coon
17 Word meanings Words meanings 6. Laurels Awards 7. Stoop bend 8. Creep crawl9.Wither dry10. Captives prisoners
19 Answers the following: What do some men do with swords ?Who stoop to fail ?Which two words show that men do not die?What do you meant by pale captives?What are the garlands that wither?
20 Answers the following: 7. Why one should not boast one’ s mighty deeds ?8. What do you meant by victim victor?9. What is that which is much happens?10. What is cold tomb symbol of?11. What idea does the poet want to convey?