1522 - Skelton, John - Why come ye not to Court

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Date c. 1522
Author Skelton, John
Title Why come ye nat to Courte?
Mentions Good even, good Robin Hood (proverb)
John Skelton / Verso of t.-p. of Richard Franke's ed. of Skelton's Garland of Laurel (1523), redrawn by George Steevens; from H., J. 'Portrait of John Skelton, Poet Laureat, ob: 21 June 1529 Æ. about 68', The British Bibliographer, vol. IV (London, 1814), pp. 389-90 and plate facing p. 389; see plate facing p. 389.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-07-29. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-07.


He is set so hye
In his ierarchy
Of frantycke frenesy
And follyshe fantasy,
That in the Chambre of Sterres
All maters there he marres,
Clappyng his rod on the borde.
No man dare speke a worde,
For he hathe all the sayenge
Without any renayenge.
He rolleth in his recordes,
He sayth, 'How saye ye, my lordes?
Is nat my reason good?'
Good evyn, good Robyn Hode!
Some say 'yes', and some
Syt styll as they were dom
Thus thwartyng over thom,
He ruleth all the roste.[1]

Source notes

Scattergood[2] has this note to l. 289: "Proverbial".

IRHB comments

John Skelton's Why come ye nat to Courte? was written c. 1522. This passage, citing the proverbial expression "Good even, good Robin Hood", is one of Skelton's satirical attacks on Cardinal Wolsey. Philip Henderson explains the saying as a "proverbial expression for civility extorted by fear"[3]. If Greg Walker is not formally incorrect in observing that Wolsey is here "compared to Robin Hood",[4] it is important to note that the two are only seen as similar in that they induce a fear in people which quells opposition.





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