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 ?
All future work on the significance of John Ball will inevitably be determined to some extent by the recent work of Steven Justice, but Thomas Pettitt's essay, ' "Folk Allegory" in the Idiom of John Ball', is an independently valuable contribution to this aspect of late medieval culture, and his examination of popular idioms has important implications for our understanding of Skeltonics. Of the many essays on the drama, Peter Meredith writes suggestively on what he sees as the 'mobile' fifteenth-century audience of the York Corpus Christi play.
Tudor poet and satirist of both political and religious subjects whose individual poetic style of short rhyming lines, based on natural speech rhythms, has been given the name of Skeltonics.
It is a protective cover similar to that used by John Skelton in Speke Parott (1521):(7) since all human language is parody when uttered by a parrot, the established boundaries of the Latin of the learned and ecclesiastical, the French of the courtly and aristocratic, the polite formality of English rhetoric are all broken down, and all forms of human speech rendered 'equal' to the racy, boisterous helter-skelter of Skelton's apparently plebeian 'Skeltonics' - at once a truly subversive, yet 'protected' use of language.