Poem Study – James Shirley ‘Death the Leveller’ Analysis

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Death the Leveller” is a poem written by James Shirley for an educated audience, using words and phrases that people in the late 1500s may not understand. The poem discusses how high rank and power will not last and that we cannot defend ourselves from death. The structure of the poem is a 3-stanza form of similar length and emphasizes the main points in lines 5 and 6 of each stanza. The poem uses symbols of royalty and war to convey its message, and the rhyme sequence is generally AB, AB, CC, AD, with some exceptions. The tone is eerie and somber, with a hint of melancholy, and the speaker’s attitude is determined and loyal. The poem concludes that in death, we are all judged strictly on what is inside, regardless of our wealth or status.”

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The verse form ‘Death the Leveller’ was written for the upper category educated. Many other people could non understand it. It holds many words that people in the late 1500’s didn’t understand. Wordss like ‘Sceptre’- an cosmetic rod held by a king/queen as a symbol of power are used in ‘Death the Leveller’ . Shirley’s statement is that a high rank+ place wouldn’t last and we can’t defend ourselves from decease. He tries to do us see that good and merely actions will populate on. but no affair how rich or hapless you are. we will all be judged the same in decease. ‘Death the Leveller’ besides has a rhetorical side. and Shirley’s tries to set his point across by utilizing phrases like ; ” The self-praise no more about your mighty deeds” .

The construction of ‘Death the Leveller’ is a 3-stanza verse form of similar form and length giving it a stereotyped expression. except for lines 5 and 6 of each stanza were the lines are given emphasize. as they are the chief parts. Wordss used in lines 5 and 6 of each stanza are really similar. illustration ;

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“Sceptre and Crown must topple down” and “Early or tardily. they stoop to fate” . Two words that don’t rimes are used foremost. and so the last word of the line ever rhymes with the 3rd word used. Many of the words and phrases used are symbols of royalty such as ‘Crown’ . ‘Garland’ and ‘Swords’ and ‘Armor’ are used. These are a mark of war or conflict. ‘Death the Leveller’ by and large has a rhyme sequence of AB. AB. CC. AD. ‘Come and tomb’ in stanza three are an exclusion.

The verse form is written in English. and was printed at the clip of the parliamentary triumph for Oliver Cromwell and the executing of King Charles I. Undoubted. such drastic events traumatized authors like Shirley who had sympathized with the sovereign. That’s why he uses royalty in ‘Death the Leveller’ and decease as the chief subject. He uses personification with decease. illustration ; “Death lays his icy manus on kings” . Shirley has given decease an icy manus which is placed upon something that Shirley one time sympathized with. but is now gone. He uses initial rhyme in ‘Death the Leveller’ to emphases the abrasiveness of implements used in entombment.

The tone of ‘Death the Leveller’ is a slow. eerie tone that person speech production at a funeral might utilize. The tone stays the same except when stressing abrasiveness of cutting implements. It so changes back to the normal tone at the last two lines. but gets a spot softer when the verse form concludes to convey back the ‘death’ feeling. The tone throughout ‘Death the Leveller’ is by and large the same. but when colons are used it’s emphasized. Yet at the terminal of line six on the last stanza. a colon is used to demo a alteration in tone and construction.

In decision. ‘Death the Leveller’ is an eerie. cooling. serious and drab verse form with a intimation of melancholy. Its tone can be rather derisive and dry in mention to those who were successful in the yesteryear. The speaker’s attitude is really determined and loyal and run on lines add strength and urgency to reason his point. which is.

“We are all equal in decease. some may hold money. some may hold nil. Yet when it comes to decease. we are judged strictly on what is inside” .

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Poem Study – James Shirley ‘Death the Leveller’ Analysis. (2017, Aug 12). Retrieved from


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