Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
The Might of Death (from Cupid and Death, a Masque)
By James Shirley (1596–1666)
 
[1653]

VICTORIOUS men of earth, no more
  Proclaim how wide your empires are;
Though you bind in every shore,
  And your triumphs reach as far
      As night or day,        5
Yet you, proud monarchs, must obey,
And mingle with forgotten ashes when
Death calls ye to the crowd of common men.
 
Devouring Famine, Plague, and War,
  Each able to undo mankind,        10
Death’s servile emissaries are;
  Nor to these alone confined
      He hath at will
More quaint and subtle ways to kill;
A smile or kiss, as he will use the art,        15
Shall have the cunning skill to break a heart.
 
 
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