Presentation video created by Ms.Sajeena Shukkoor
DEATH THE LEVELLER (POEM) – JAMES SHIRLEY – VIDEO
DEATH THE LEVELLER BY JAMES SHIRLEY: AN APPRECIATION
“Death the Leveller” is a powerful poem by James Shirley which reminds us that death is a force that haunts all human beings. It is also treated as a funeral song. It says that death is a great leveler.The high and the low, the mighty and the meek, the rich and the poor are all equal before death. This is a very common idea, but Shirley gives depth and vividness to this common truth. Human glory will not last long. All success and victory are mere shadows, not substantial things. When death catches hold of someone with icy hands the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak must yield. We have no weapon to fight against this almighty fate.
The poet discusses the concept of artificial success and victory. In the last stanza, the poem ends with the idea that only our good deeds will be remembered for ever. We can simply boast of our mighty deeds but they don’t have permanency. The scepter and the crown are symbols of their power and glory. All will be reduced to dust.
Scythe and Spade represent the poor working class. All will die whether rich or poor. Some men may achieve military glory in battle fields. They will gain honour and fame by defeating their enemies. Their strength will be weakened. The nerves will lose their strength. They can not control death. Death is too powerful for them and they can do nothing against it. The poet speaks of death as an inevitable end. Every minute we are slowly creeping towards death.
. The mighty deeds or the glory of human beings are equated with the “Withering of Garlands”. Our head may be decorated with garlands. But these will soon dry and wither away. Therefore let us not boast about our so called mighty deeds. The victorious king will soon become the victim of death.He will be like an animal sacrificed on the altar of death. Bluish red blood will drip from his head. Every head will one day be buried in the cold tomb. Only just and good actions will be remembered after death. They will be like the fragrance of sweet-smelling flowers.
The rhyme scheme of the poem is consistent throughout the poem The Scheme of ababccdd follows in each of the stanza. The pattern creates a rhythm as the first four lines of each stanza illustrate and the four lines give more depth to the poem.
Prepared by Joy Peter HSST English