The Glories of our Blood and State

(Excerpt from "The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses")

Original Text: 
James Shirley, The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses (1659).
1The glories of our blood and state
2    Are shadows, not substantial things;
3There is no armour against fate;
4    Death lays his icy hand on kings.
5      Sceptre and crown
6      Must tumble down,
7And in the dust be equal made
8With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
9Some men with swords may reap the field,
10    And plant fresh laurels where they kill;
11But their strong nerves at last must yield,
12    They tame but one another still.
13      Early or late,
14      They stoop to fate,
15And must give up their murmuring breath,
16When they, pale captives, creep to death.
17The garlands wither on your brow,
18    Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
19Upon death's purple altar now,
20    See where the victor-victim bleeds.
21      Your heads must come
22      To the cold tomb;
23Only the actions of the just
24Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.248; RPO 1996-2000.