Percy's Reliques - Death's Final Conquest.

Death's Final Conquest.

            These fine moral stanzas were originally intended for a solemn funeral song, in a play of James Shirley's, intitled, "The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses:" no date, 8vo. Shirley flourished as a dramatic writer early in the reign of Charles I. but he outlived the Restoration. His death happened October 29, 1666, ęt. 72.

            This little poem was written long after many of those that follow, but is inserted here as a kind of Dirge to the foregoing piece. It is said to have been a favourite song with King Charles II.

THE glories of our birth and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate:
Death lays his icy hands on kings:
Scepter 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:
All heads must come
To the cold tomb,
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.

 

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