Interpreting Shirley’s-Death the leveler

Message from James Shirley’s poem – ‘Death the leveler’

In James Shirley’s poem, Death, The Leveler there is a line which says ‘death lays his icy hand on kings’. This is a line of great significance. The king referred to in this sentence does not literally refer to kings but to any person who is a sense-enjoyer, one who tries to enjoy the world with his various sense organs and tries to derive utmost pleasure from the fleeting visions of the world.

The irony of the fact is that though a person tries his level best to make most of the world with his minds and his senses, the world stuff simply escapes his grip just as sand grains escape our grip as we try to grasp it harder. The fleeting visions of the world are only in appearance and do not have a true grounding.

The fact of the world is that all the world’s activities and engagements are going to be snatched away and its just a matter of time before the reality of death snatches our dreams and plans with reckless precision and nobody can stop that. Death is the only reality and everything else is just fleeting fluff, a stuff less story that is created around it to while away time and perhaps hopelessly evade the fear of Death.

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Why should we contemplate on death?

A person who meditates on Death throughout his life is an enlightened one. Death is a negative phenomenon, people say but one who is ever watchful and aware of Death is a person of great intelligence. In fact, one of the most potent spiritual practices that are found effective is trying to remember our relationship with Death.

A person who is aware of Death is a person who does not indulge himself in sense pleasures. Such a person is a wise one who, through the practice of Death remembrance has conquered fear. It will be interesting to note that all the fears of the world are rooted in the fear of Death. Therefore if one is intensely aware of the Death, he shall gradually lose all other fears in Life.

Death is a great reliever and if one is intelligent, he shall use the concept of Death to attain victory over Life. In the end, however, Death shall take over.

What is your idea of Death? Have you ever thought deeply about Death? Do you think there is something common between Death and Truth? Let me know your thoughts. You can also connect with me.

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