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.
The honour is overpaid,
When he that did the act is commentator.
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.
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.