Thursday, 3 October 2019


                                  DEATH THE LEVELER

Enjoying the poem:

1.     What is the theme or the central idea of the poem?
Ans. Death spares none. It is great leveler. The high and low, the rich and poor cannot escape the icy hands of death. There is no defence against death. The only things that last for ever are the just and noble deeds.

2.     Write the summary of the poem in your own words.
Ans. In this poem James Shirley shows that the king and the peasant, the warrior and this victim are all equal in the eyes of death. The glories of one’s high birth, caste, religion, class or one’s position in the society or money ultimately means nothing. Everything is destroyed by death. Only those who acted rightly and justly are remembered and their goodness stays in the minds of men for ever.

3.     What lesson do you get from this poem?
Ans. The poem teachers that it is useless to take pride in our achievements or our high position in society. Death reduces everybody to dust. Men kill each other and feel proud of the victories. This is a meaningless pride. The memory of a noble action lives forever. Man is remembered by his good deeds.

4.     What does the expression ‘scythe and spade’ stand for in line 8?
Ans. Scythe is used by farmers and spade is used by labourers. So the expression scythe and spade’ here stands for poor working class.

5.     Do the conquerors tame death or the dead?
Ans. No, conquerors do not tame death or the dead. They yield to death as others do. They cannot avoid death. They become powerless and lie in their graves when death overpowers them. In the same way, conquerors cannot exercise their power over the dead. A man who has died can suffer no harm from a conquerors.

6.     Explain the lines

“Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust’’
 Ans. In these lines, the poet wants to tell us that only the action of good and noble persons are remembered even after their death. People praise them and feel grateful for the good that they have done to others. The poet compares their noble deeds to sweet smelling flowers in these lines.

7.     Write true or false against the following sentences:

(a)  There is no armour against fate.                                                                 True

(b) Death spares the mighty but punishes the weak.                                            False

(c) Death can even kill good deeds.                                                                      False

(d) Death lays his icy hand on kings.                                                                             True

8.     This poem highlights the uselessness of human power and might. What is that cannot be
snatched by death?

Ans. Death snatches everything from us, but it cannot snatch our good and noble deeds. These deeds are remembered even after death because they find a permanent place in the hearts of people.

9. Read John Donne’s poem ‘Death, Be not Proud’ and compare the two poems.

1. What is the theme or central idea of the poem?               Or

Write the summary of the poem in your own words.

Ans:- The poem tells us that death treats all at par. It spares none. All have to bow before the power of death sooner or later. Only the good deeds of a person are remembered after death.

Extract 1

The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate;
Death lays his icy hands on kings.

1. Name the poem and the poet.

Ans:- Poem = Death the leveler
Poet = James Shirley

2. What are not substantial things?

Ans:- The glories of our blood and state are not substantial things.
3. Explain the last line.

Ans:- Death spares none, even they are kings also.

Extract 2

Scepter and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked schtye and spade.

1. What are scepter and crown symbol of?

Ans:- They are the symbols of kings and rulers.

2. What happens to the scepter and the crown?
Ans:- They mix with the dust in the end.

3. Who are made equal and with whom?

Ans:- Kings are made equal with the poor.

Extract 3

Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill;
But their strongs nerves at last must yield;
They tame but one another still.

1. What do some men do with swords?

Ans:- Some men win battles with swords.

2. What do they fail to do?

Ans:- They fail to win over death.

3. Explain the last line.

Ans:- Some men can kill others, but they can’t kill death.

Extract 4

Early or late
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath
When they pale captives creep to death.

1. Who stoop to death?

Ans:- All men stoop to death.

2. Which two words show that men don’t want to die?
Ans:- Murmuring Breath.

3. What is meant by ‘pale captives’?

Ans:- The person who are going to die.

Extract 5

Your heads must come
To the cold tomb:
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.

1. What is that which must happen?

Ans:- Everyone has to die in the end.

2. What is ‘cold tomb’ a symbol of?
Ans:- ‘Cold tomb’ is a symbol of death.

3. What idea does the poet want to convey?

Ans:- Only the good deeds of a person are remembered after death.