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On the Tombs in Westminster Abbey, Death the Leveller, Ozymandias, My Busconductor and Let Me Die a Youngman's Death.

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Introduction

July 2000 English Coursework On the Tombs in Westminster Abbey, Death the Leveller, Ozymandias, My Busconductor and Let Me Die a Youngman's Death In opening line of the poem On the Tombs in Westminster Abbey, Francis Beaumont draws our attention to the subject of death and specifically our own with his use of the ominous and commanding line, "Mortality, behold and fear!" This immediately reminds us that we are all mortal and therefore will all die. The poem then goes on to demonstrate the fact that we are all equal due to our mortality and thus worldly power is rendered meaningless by death. The poet illustrates this by mocking those who had great power in life as can be seen from the words "royal bones" which reduce all the wealth and stature of the monarchy to mere bones and also by comparing them to fertiliser with the line, "the richest, royalest seed." He then belittles these kings and queens further by denigrating their revered building of burial with a comparison to a "heap of stones." In describing their death, Beaumont is giving the message that possession of "realms and lands" is not important. He also suggests that the fact that they are dead teaches us a lesson as demonstrated by the metaphor, "from their pulpits sealed with dust, they preach, 'In greatness is no trust'." ...read more.

Middle

The words "pale captives" are significant in that they are no longer brave victors as everyone is defeated by death, hence the use of the word "victor-victim." The equality between all mortals in death is represented in the second poem by the line, "in the dust be equal made," which can be likened to the phrase, "as men they died," from the first poem as they both indicate that once dead, kings and queens are no greater than ordinary peasants. This is indicated by the line, "Sceptre and Crown...be equal made with...scythe and spade." In addition, the first two poems are similar in that although they refer to powerful people, there is also a more personal warning or preaching of death to the reader. Although Shirley begins with "they", in the last verse this has changed to, "Your heads must come...". However, the noticeable difference between the two poems is that only the second offers some hope in the last two lines with the suggestion that if you have lived a good life, you will have a good death. The first poem presents a dark forecast with no reference to any joy in life and instead a tirade about the pointlessness of life as we will all die anyway, whereas in the second poem, after all the horror, there is a brief reference to being remembered after death. ...read more.

Conclusion

This can be seen from the words "strike", "overwork" and "factory girls." The word "journey" has a double meaning, not only does it mean the bus journey but it also represents the journey of life which for the bus conductor is "nearly done." McGough makes the poem even more poignant by describing the simple things the conductor does in his last few precious moments of life such as, "watch familiar shops and pubs pass by," - he is rediscovering innocent pleasures. He also illustrates effectively how simple, everyday things become more precious when you know they are the last you will experience and how people will try to savour these things and make them last. He does this by showing the conductor appreciating things he had previously taken for granted, as shown by the lines, "and the sky was it ever so blue?" and "he holds a ninepenny single as if it were a rose." The fact that "he goes gently" makes the reader feel sorry for him, this emotion is not encountered in any of the previous poems as the people featured in those were not humble. This feeling is also evoked by the line, "perhaps for the last time?" In the last stanza the idea of work is once again used in the metaphor, "the deserted bus shelter of his mind," and also in the comparison of finishing work to finishing life in the line, "one day he'll clock on and never clock off or clock off and never clock on. ...read more.

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