Background on Contra Alium Cantitantem

Connected Background


Introduction and Background to

Even though the entire poem is in Latin, the Skelton Project has chosen to distribute this particular poem as it is included in the series of poems known collectively as Agaynste a Comely Coystrowne, to which Agaynste a Comely Coystrowne, Uppon a Deedmans Hed, and Womanhod, Wanton, Ye Want! also belong.

The first printed version of the poem dates from 1527 according to the STC (22611) and was printed by John Rastell (Freeman 411). The poem is also found in STC 22608 (Workes, ed. J. Stow, T. Marshe (1568)). Scattergood asserts that this poem has been written around the same time as “Agaynste a Comely Coystrowne” (1495-1497) and has the same subject (392). The translation of the title reads: “A sarcastic poem against another singer and doltish musician who critized the muse-like Skelton” (Scattergood 392). Renchler comments that Skelton again advertises himself as poet and that the last line condemns his critic for attacking “a sacrum virum”, a holy man named John Skelton (Renchler 144). Further information about whom the poem is aimed at is unknown.