Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray
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   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
229. The Last Conqueror
 
James Shirley (1596–1666)
 
 
VICTORIOUS men of earth, no more
  Proclaim how wide your empires are;
Though you bind-in every shore
  And your triumphs reach as far
      As night or day,        5
  Yet you, proud monarchs, must obey
And mingle with forgotten ashes, when
Death calls ye to the crowd of common men.
 
Devouring Famine, Plague, and War,
  Each able to undo mankind,        10
Death’s servile emissaries are;
  Nor to these alone confined,
      He hath at will
  More quaint and subtle ways to kill;
A smile or kiss, as he will use the art,        15
Shall have the cunning skill to break a heart.
 

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