John Skelton: The Critical Heritage

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

c. 1521 (STC 3507), D iv. Once again, Bradshaw employs the modesty topos contrasting his capacities as poet with the same four poets as in No. 5a (‘the monk of Bury’ is Lydgate).


What memory or reason is sufficient
To remembre the myracles of this lady
What story can expresse or pen is conuenient
Playnly to discribe all the noble story
It were a plesaunt werke for the monk of Bury
For Chaucer or Skelton fathers of eloquens
Or for religious Barkeley to shewe theyr diligens


6.

WILLIAM LILY ON SKELTON: ‘NEITHER LEARNED, NOR A POET’

c. 1519

The text of these lines by the grammarian William Lily (1468? -1522) comes from British Library MS Harley 540, f. 57v. The translation is that made by bishop Thomas Fuller in 1662 (see below, No. 24).


Quid me Scheltone fronte sic aperta
Carnis vipereo potens veneno
Quid versus trutina meos iniqua
Libras. Dicere vera num licebit
Doctrina tibi dum parari famam
Et doctus fieri studes poeta:
Doctrinam nec habes nec es poeta


(With face so bold, and teeth so sharp
Of Viper’s venome, why dost carp?
Why are my verses by thee weigh’d
In a false scale? May truth be said?
Whilst thou, to get the more esteem,
A learned Poet fain wouldst seem;
Skelton, thou art, let all men know it,
Neither learned, nor a poet.)

-48-

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