Page:Some soldier poets.djvu/46

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

The passages already quoted prove that, as a poet, he is disinclined to think effort worth while, and easily consents to imperfections characteristic of that phase of skill which distinguishes play from a profession. Colin Clout is more gentlemanly than Paradise Lost, even though it be less worthy of man.

"What could be dafter
Than John Skelton's laughter?
What sound more tenderly
Than his pretty poetry?
So where to rank old Skelton?
He was no monstrous Milton
Nor wrote no Paradise Lost,
So wondered at by most,
Praised so disdainfully,
Composed so painfully.
He struck what Milton missed,
Milling an English grist
With homely turn and twist.
He was English through and through,
Not Greek, nor French, nor Jew,
Though well their tongues he knew. . . ."

Yet, as good old Skelton pled:

"For though my rhime be ragged,
Tattered and jagged,
Rudely rain-beaten,
Rusty and moth-eaten,
If ye take well therewith,
It hath in it some pith."

A just claim; besides there is something ideal about absence of strain; greatness has in Milton undoubtedly taken itself a shade too seriously. However, in the end one perhaps likes our humorist best when he is gravest.


I've watched the Season passing slow, so slow,
In fields between La Bassée and Bethune;
Primroses and the first warm day of Spring,
Red poppy floods of June,