The sixteenth century saw the sonnet arrive in England, and with that, the sonnet sequence that would lead to Shakespeare’s collection of 154 sonnets about the ‘Fair Youth’ and ‘Dark Lady’. It was also the age of satirical poetry in the form of John Skelton’s poems, and narrative poetry – even epic poetry – which culminated in Edmund Spenser’s vast poem The Faerie Queene. Below, we select, and introduce, ten of the very best sixteenth-century poems written in English.
John Skelton, ‘Speke Parott’. Skelton (c. 1463-1529) was King Henry VIII’s tutor, and he was also one of the first great satirical poets writing in English – his poem ‘Colyn Cloute’, for instance, was