John Skelton: The Critical Heritage

By Anthony S. G.Edwards | Go to book overview

written c. 1510. The ‘Cornysh’ mentioned is the poet William Cornish (d. 1524); ‘mastyr moor’ is St Thomas More (1478-1535). The passage is an attack on John Baptist de Grimaldis (the ‘cursid Caytyff’), a henchman of Henry VII’s advisors, Empson and Dudley.


O most cursid Caytyff, what shuld I of the wryte
Or telle the particulers, of thy cursid lyffe
I trow If Skelton, or Cornysh wold endyte
Or mastyr moor, they myght not Inglysh Ryffe
Nor yit Chawcers, If he were now in lyffe
Cowde not In metyr, half thy shame spelle
Nor yit thy ffalshod, half declare or telle


5.

HENRY BRADSHAW ON SKELTON AND OTHER SUPERIOR POETS

c. 1513

(a) From ‘The Life of St. Werburge of Chester’ by Henry Bradshaw (d. 1513?), a Benedictine monk living in Chester and posthumously printed by Richard Pynson in 1521 (STC 3506), S iir. The stanza is a variant of the ‘modesty topos’ whereby the author contrasts his work with that of other superior poets, in this instance Chaucer, John Lydgate, Skelton and Alexander Barclay.


To all auncient poetes litell boke submytte the
Whilom flouryng in eloquence facundious
And to all other/whiche present nowe be
Fyrst to maister Chaucer/and Ludgate sentencious
Also to preignaunt Barkley/nowe beyng religious
To inuentiue Skelton and poet laureate
Praye them all of pardon both erly and late

(b) From Bradshaw’s other posthumously published saint’s life, ‘The Life of St. Radegunde’, published by Pynson

-47-

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