Verse > Anthologies > Francis T. Palgrave, ed. > The Golden Treasury
Francis T. Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897). The Golden Treasury.  1875.
J. Shirley
LXIX. 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         5
      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;  10
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  15
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.  20
      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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