Analysis of Phillip Sparrow

Topics: Death, Poetry, Elegy Pages: 4 (1305 words) Published: March 10, 2013
Satirical existence in John Skelton’s Poem
“Phillip Sparrow”
John Skelton an early tudor poet and laureate is a well known poet for his poem “Phillip Sparrow” also known as “The Book of Phyllyp Sparowe”. Many have argued that this piece was a satirical poem and others argued that it was just a story of a girl who lost her pet sparrow. Given a short background glimpse from what is known of John Skelton this piece isn't that innocent to the eye as many may have thought. The center focus of this analytical response is dedicated to his poem “Philip Sparrow”. His poem is royalist in tone, highly critical of the church and a moving lament for a young novitiate Jane Scrope loss of a pet sparrow while also binding it to the time that he was castigating his own parish curate, the archbishop of York, and the lord chancellor.

Skelton's poem falls into four distinct parts: two larger divisions, each having two parts. First of all comes the elegy of Philip, which begins most aptly with the burial service and proceeds to a Mass of the birds---a type of mock requiem with antecedents reaching far back into the Middle ages. This section of the poem is an early example of the stream-of-consciousness technique, as Jane ruminates about her pet. Bits of the Requiem Mass and the Office for the Dead float through her head, and she sings these. In fact, Jane begins her lament with the opening word of the antiphon for Vespers of the Office for the Dead, Placebo Domino in regione vivorum. This incipit together with the first word of the response to it, is quite plainly sung by Jane , for not only are the words divided into syllables, but the musical syllables are given “Pla ce bo,/ Who is there, who? / Di le xi, / Dame Margery; / Fa, re, my, my”. Other phrases from the office occur to Jane, as she recalls Philips charming little ways and the great pleasure she took in him but her lament is interrupted for a moment by a curse to all cats and “That cat sypecyally / That slew so...
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