Early satires of Skelton.
The transition in England from middle Ages to the Renaissance is more lucidly described in prose than poetry. There is no poet of humanistic qualities in the generation of that times that produced Utopia. Barclay revived English literature by bringing about significant materials from abroad. In 1509 he published, with considerable and humorous additions of his own, The Ship of Foods, a version of Sebastian Brant’s Das Narrenschiff , a clever popular example of literature of folly. Barclay also introduced into English literature the eclogue , which is some respects a symbol of the Renaissance . It has been known to the middle Ages through pastoral works and was exploited during Renaissance. John Skelton lived a long time and was famous man his day. In that age of transition previous to the Reformation it was possible for Skelton to be the bitter, rollicking , outspoken satirist that he was and at the same time to be a priest .
This did not mean what he does now, but only that he received that designation as a fitting degree from the University of Oxford and Cambridge. It shows a fairly extensive knowledge of classical literature and it itself a good example of literary criticism. Skelton’s strange style , as free as prose and as pointed as verse , seems to have been based on a development of the rhetorical figure of like endings, form discredited because of its artificiality. In his hands of the naïve simplicity of Phillip Sparrow or the deadly rapid blows of the satire Collin Clout, He says:
And if ye stand in doubt / Who brought this rhyme about/My name is Colin Clout/I purposes to shake out/ All my cunning bag/Like a clergy hag;
Almost all of his poetry is satirical. This is even true of his most pleasing work, the Boke of Phylyp Sparowe , written before 1508 for a school girl named Jane Scroupe , pupil in a nunnery school at Carow near Norwich. Like most of the poems of the time Phillip Sparrow is too long. Skelton has in mind Catullus’s clever little elegy on a similar subject, but Skelton writes ten or twenty times as much.
Skelton’s early satires , The Bowge of Court , Against Garnescge , and Ware the Hauke are exuberant and rather general; in import. In Magnyficence in 1516, a morality play, Skelton makes his most dignified and careful bid for literary fame. In it he drafts a figurative stretch of England as governed by king, ministers, estates and commons. Skelton wrote as he thought and produced his work with more immediacy and imaginative vividness then he would had he had a formal style .