James Shirley

English writer (1596–1666)

James Shirley (or Sherley) (September 1596October 29, 1666) was an English poet and dramatist.

James Shirley


  • Devouring Famine, Plague, and War,
    Each able to undo mankind,
    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,
    Shall have the cunning skill to break a heart.
  • Death calls ye to the crowd of common men.
    • Cupid and Death.

The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses

  • The honour is overpaid,
    When he that did the act is commentator.
    • sc. i.
  • 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 crooked scythe and spade.
    • sc. iii.
  • Only the actions of the just
    Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.
    • sc. iii. Compare: "The sweet remembrance of the just Shall flourish when he sleeps in dust", Tate and Brady, Psalm cxxii.
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