Death the Leveller by James Shirley (1596-1666) is a poem I learned at school and it seems to simmer away in my subconscious. It really came to the boil, though, last Friday when I went for my weekly visit to Mount Congreve Garden.
I went there straight after the funeral of Tawdy Morrissey, the Man of the Road, whom I wrote about here over the weekend. I knew that Mount Congreve, with its incredible natural beauty, would soothe my sadness.
It transpired that the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, had been visiting Mount Congreve while Tawdy’s funeral was taking place. I have huge admiration for Michael D. who happens to be a sociologist and poet, as well as being President. Needless to say, our commonalities always makes me feel like we are virtual soul mates!
I was thrilled that the President had seen Mount Congreve in all her glory and I knew that he would have loved Tawdy if he had been fortunate enough to know him.
So, Mount Congreve presented herself to me as a place which completely united two men from opposite ends of the spectrum ~ two men well versed in the meaning of life and to whom these lines from Death the Leveller would have definitely resonated:
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.
Here’s a glimpse of the beauty that caught my eyes in soothing Mount Congreve on a day when I felt just about every emotion, including sadness, pride, and absolute faith in man’s humanity to man: