In my morning reading time I came across the poem, "Death the Leveller" by James Shirley. (see below) Shirley was a playwright who lived in the 1600s. He is known to have had a flair for the "dramatic," but in this poem his prose communicates a very real and sobering truth.
All of us--the great, the mighty, the rich, the poor, the just and the unjust--will someday die.
The Internet tells me that 56 "famous people" died in this past year of 2012. I will miss Andy Griffith, Dick Clark and Ray Bradbury, to name a few, but there are others, that didn't make the list of 56, that I will miss much more. They live on in the memories of my mind and heart.
The poet reminds us that in the end we will all inhabit the grave. But this morning I am not thinking about dying, I am thinking about living. My name will never be found via a Google search of "famous people who died," but it just might be remembered by my family, my friends, my coworkers and my neighbors.
Death the Leveller
The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against Fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and Crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crookèd scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill:
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
They tame but one another still:
Early or late
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath
When they, pale captives, creep to death.
The garlands wither on your brow,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds!
Upon Death's purple altar now
See where the victor-victim bleeds.
Your heads must come
To the cold tomb:
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.