JOHN SKELTON (1463-1529)

JOHN SKELTON (1463-1529)

He was born in Diss, Norfolk, England. Skelton died in Westminster and was buried in St. Margaret’s Church, Skelton is famous for his satirical English poetry wherein he makes frequent targets on the corruption or corrupting influence of Cardinal Wolsey. He has developed the skeleton verse form containing two or three accented syllables which are often alliterated. Sometimes his lines run up to 14 lines and are linked in couplets. His work is highly self-conscious, playful, and sometimes parodic.
Skelton was awarded the Poet Laureate by the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. He was a tutor to Prince Henry who became subsequently King Henry- VIII. His works are:

(a) The Bowge of Court: It was written in 1498, and it is an indirect attack on court corruption through a reworking of the ‘ship of fools’ convention.

(b) The Phyllype Sparrow: It was written in 1505 in two parts. The first part is an attempt by a young convent girl to compose a memorial for her dead sparrow. The second part is lengthy praise.

(c) The Tunnying of Elinour Rummyng: It was composed in 1517. It is an exercise of the female grotesque which describes the female patrons of Elinour’s oil house.

(d) (i) Speak Parrot, (ii) Colin Clout, (iii) Why come ye not to Court? : were written in 1521-22. They are an attack on the abuse of ecclesiastical corruption in general and Wolsey’s corruption in particular.

(e) The Garlande or Chapelet of Laurell: It is a witty projection of Skelton’s place as a poet laureate in the Hall of Fame.

(f) Magnificence: It was composed in 1515-16 and it examines the dangers of corrupt practices prevalent in the court.

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