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"Death is a Leveller" Show how this idea is reflected in the two poems "Death the Leveller" by James Shirley and "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

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Introduction

"Death is a Leveller" Show how this idea is reflected in the two poems "Death the Leveller" by James Shirley and "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Some people, as history portrays, achieve great things in life, some do not. What we achieve or what we do not achieve in life is unimportant because eventually death reduces us all to the same level " Death the Leveller" by James Shirley was written around the time of the English Civil War. The poem makes reference to victors of a battle who are eventually reduced to the level of their defeated foes. The poem also makes reference to the death of a king. " Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley, was written around the time Napoleon, when he was at the peak of his power. This poem could be seen as a warning to Napoleon, warning him that eventually all his glory will end. Both poems indicate that death will end our glories or victories, that death is a leveller. Death the Leveller" could be telling us that we cannot battle death. ...read more.

Middle

Shirley also tells us that death is inevitable in the line: "Early or late They stoop to fate" These lines also support the lines earlier in the poem that "There is no armour against fate" Shirley metaphorically states that victory passes in time. We see this in the lines: "The garlands wither on your brow Then boast no more your mighty deeds" These lines are focusing on the point: What we achieve or what we do not achieve in life is unimportant because eventually death reduces us all to the same level. Shirley also hints at the death of Charles I. Shirley uses "purple" to emphasise royalty and "altar" which suggests sacrifice or death. This once again explains that even the most powerful of people are only mortal and can be made equal. Shirley ends the poem on a more positive note: "Only the actions of the just Smell sweet and blossom in their dust" These lines state that only if your achievements were good and just, will you be remembered long after your dust. ...read more.

Conclusion

This could be suggesting that no matter how the statue is supposed to be seen, "Ozymandias'" true colours are portrayed. Shelley shows the selfishness of "Ozymandias" during the poem. "The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed" This explains that no matter how "Ozymandias" punished his people, he fed them to keep them alive so they could worship him and to make him seem that he was better than someone else. However it was all in vain Shelley shows us that death destroys us in the lines "'My name is Ozymandias king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair!' Nothing beside remains." This tells us that no matter how "Mighty" "Ozymandias" thought he was, he was defeated by death. None of his works are visible any more. They have all been destroyed Shelley introduces "sands" in the final line of the poem. This suggests 'sands of time', telling us we are all destroyed by time. "Ozymandias" and "Death the Leveller" both have their own styles but they both convey the message that we will all be levelled by death. We see that both poems make reference to dust or sand, which in the poems represent death. ...read more.

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