John Skelton

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Skelton, John,

1460–1529, English poet and humanist. Tutor to Prince Henry (later Henry VIII), he later (c.1502) became rector of Diss, Norfolk. In 1512 he began to call himself royal orator, a position that may have been conferred by Henry VIII requiring that Skelton carry on some royal correspondence and write occasional official poems. He wrote a long allegorical poem, The Garland of Laurel (1523), but is remembered for his scathing and often obscene satires on the court, the clergy, and Cardinal Wolsey—The Bowge of Court (1499), Speak, Parrot (1521), Colin Clout (1522), and Why Come Ye Not to Court? (c.1522)—and the mock dirge "Philip Sparrow." Many of his works are written in verse forms he himself devised, called Skeltonics. They consist of short lines and insistent rhymes, sometimes repeated through several sets of couplets; they also employ alliteration.


See Skelton's works (ed. by Rev. Alexander Dyce, 2 vol., 1843); biography by A. S. Edwards (1981); studies by A. R. Heiserman (1961), S. E. Fish (1965), M. Pollet (tr. 1971), A. F. Kinney (1987), and G. Walker (1988).

References in periodicals archive ?
Protestant appropriations of Skelton's ironic imagery often took the poet's satirical verse at face value and adapted Skeltonic parody to condemn the sacramental ritual of traditional religion.
She literally takes apart representative stanzas and reassembles their constituents to demonstrate the signifying power of, for example, Loy's roughly Skeltonic stanzaic structure, her abrupt shifts of diction and register, and her complex soundplay.
The influence of the medieval popular tradition is also shown in the use of the parodic doggerel of the kind found in Chaucer's Sir Thopas and of the Skeltonic. Skelton's poetry is particularly commended for its social and linguistic satire and its attack against the Church.
The difficulty of Brownlow's argument is compounded by the Skeltonic obscurity of its presentation, divided among introductions, appendices, and commentary.