John Skelton: The Critical Heritage

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

Notes
1
A misquotation from John Pits, ‘Relationum Historicarum de Rebus Anglicis’ (1619); the correct translation reads, ‘his nimble speech was often turned into jest, his laughter into opprobrium, his mirth into bitterness.’
2
Literally ‘do not touch me’, i.e. prohibited topics.

25.

EDWARD PHILLIPS ON SKELTON’S CURRENT OBSCURITY

1675

From Edward Phillips’s ‘Theatrum Poetarum’ (1675), pp. 115-16, a biographical list of English poets. Phillips (1630-96?) was a prose writer and a cousin of John Milton.

John Skelton, a jolly English Rimer, and I warrant ye accounted a notable Poet, as Poetry went in those daies, namely King Edward the fourth’s Reign, when doubtless good Poets were scarce; for however he had the good fortune to be chosen Poet Laureat methinks he hath a miserable loos, rambling style, and galloping measure of Verse; so that no wonder he is so utterly forgotten at this present, when so many better Poets of not much later a date, are wholly laid aside. His chief Works, as many as I could collect out of an old printed Book, but imperfect are his ‘Philip Sparrow’, ‘Speak Parrot’, ‘The death of Edward the fourth’, ‘A Treatise of the Scots’, ‘Ware the Hawk’, ‘The tunning of Eleanor Rumpkin’; in many of which following the humor of the ancientest of our modern Poets, he takes a Poetical libertie of Satyrically gibing at the vices and corruptions of the Clergy.

-73-

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