Background on Dyvers Balettys and Dyties Solacyous

Connected Background


Introduction and Background to

This collection of poems was first printed in 1528 by John Rastell (STC 22604, Dyuers Balettys and Dyties Solacyous). Yet, some scholars attribute the poems to the printer Richard Pynson (Scattergood 393). The poems were probably composed around the same time as Agaynste a Comely Coystrowne collection, which means that the poems are likely to be written around 1495 -1500 (393). The terms in title of the work refer to ‘balettys’ which represent “a broad range of musical and poetic concepts” (Renchler 145). Renchler observes that ‘dyties’ could refer to song lyrics or to any kind of composition in verse, while ‘solacyous’ means pleasant and cheerful (145) Gray notes that the multiple definitions of ‘solacyous’ indicate that the lyrics mix ‘game’ with ‘ernest’ (147) According to Renchler, the diversity of words and their multiple connotations was done deliberately in order to attract various people (Renchler 145). From the collection of poems, only the first has received scholarly attention, therefore, the other poems The auncient Acquaintance, Knolege, aquayntance, resort, favour, with grace (an acrostic KATERYN), Cuncta licet …, and Go, pytyous hart will not be discussed separately.

My Darling Dere, my Daysy Floure
This poem about a man deceived by a prostitute is a bawdy parody of a lullaby. It is unclear if the poem’s subject is based on a real-life event and the exact date of composition remains unknown as well, but the poem was probably written around 1495-1500 (Scattergood 393). As Stanley Fish observes, Skelton has a tendency in these poems to alternate between aureate language and popular, vulgar language (49). In this poem, Skelton combines courtly diction for a non-courtly situation and he uses the echo of the religious lyric – lullaby of Mary and Christ – to pronounce his characteristic cynicism (Fish 49). In Renchler’s words, “in the last stanza, Skelton moralizes the situation in a robust mixture of bombast and humor” (Renchler 146). The ending presents a paradox: by falling asleep, the man, if only passively, defeats the temptation of fornication, yet in saving his soul, he loses the world because his lover deserts him (Fish 51).