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This poem is taken from the play Cymbeline written by William Shakespeare. The poem does not portray death as misery or gloom as we traditionally believe. Instead, he considers it is the ultimate destination of every human being. It brings peace for the humans from worldly problems and sorrows.
The poem has been divided into four stanzas having six lines each. We will discuss the poem line by line and also the meanings of difficult or classical words.
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun, Nor the furious winter’s rages; Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages: Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
In the first stanza, the poet says that once a person dies he fears neither heat of the sun nor the chilling cold of winter season. After his death, a person’s worldly tasks (which he does in life) are also done. His home is gone and and his wages are taken away.
In the fourth line, the poet says that like the poor chimney-sweepers, the golden lads and girls (rich people) also have to come to dust i.e. die one day because death does not discriminate on the basis of one’s wealth. For death, all humans are alike.
o means or, thou means you, thy means your, hast means has, art means are, ta’en means taken.
Fear no more the frown o’ the great; Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke; Care no more to clothe and eat; To thee the reed is as the oak: The scepter, learning, physic, must All follow this, and come to dust.
According to the poet, after his death, a person does not have to fear the frown (angry face) of the great (his master). He has also past (gone far away) from the stroke (punishment) of the tyrant (fierce king).
A death person does not care about the clothes to wear or food to eat. For him, there is no difference between reed (grass, which is soft) and an oak tree (which is hard). In other words, for a death person, nothing has any value, be it a strong tree like oak or soft grass like reed.
In the fourth line, the poet says that every person has to die though he may be a royal (scepter) or a scholar (learning) or a doctor (physic). Every person has to face the death
Fear no more the lightning flash, Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone; Fear not slander, censure rash; Thou hast finished joy and moan: All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee, and come to dust.
A death person does not fear from the lightning flash or terrible thunders in the sky. He does not fear from slanders (false allegations) or censure rash (criticism) behind his back.
A dead person is done with joy and moan (sorrow). All the young lovers have to follow the tradition of those who are under the soil i.e. they also have to die one day.
No exorciser harm thee! Nor no witchcraft charm thee! Ghost unlaid forbear thee! Nothing ill come near thee! Quiet consummation have; And renownèd be thy grave!
In the final stanza, the poet says that no exorciser (magician) can harm a dead person, no witchcraft can affect him. A ghost also remains from far from dead person. He does not fall ill.
In the last two lines, the poet says that after dying, a person’s journey in the world is completed. He is now sleeping in his peaceful grace. His identity is changed and now onwards, he is remembered by his grave which is his ultimate and eternal destination.