Thomas Campion

Thomas Campion (1567-1620) began his professional life by studying law at Grey's Inn, but eventually practiced as a physician having received his medical degree from the University of Caen, Normandy, France.
He was a composer, poet and a writer of masques. Masques probably originated in Italy. They consisted of light, allegorical entertainment of music and dancing performed for the court by professional actors and musicians. Often courtiers and sometimes even monarchs themselves participated.

Campion wrote his first poems in Latin. As he so appreciated the quantitative versification of classical Latin, he introduced this into his English poems and songs.
He defended quantitative verse as against accentuated rhymed English verse in his Observations In the Art of English Poesy.

As he was both poet and composer, his best works are considered to be his lyric poems. It's probable that he was a fine musician for all his songs are finely fluid. He wrote over a hundred songs for lute accompaniment.
Song books and masques, however, didn't remain long in vogue, which is also why his works were virtually dismissed as obsolete after his death. Puritanism and Commonwealth concerns would also have accelerated the process.
We know that the Elizabethan Golden Age was a fabulously creative era, a cultural explosion reflecting also a general joie de vivre. Thomas Campion's occasional ribald allusions indicate that he was probably a bon vivant, and they are invariably blest with an intelligent appreciation for all the joys of life, fully determined, naturally, by women.

One of Campions poems has already been parodied in Viewfinder. Indeed some of his works seem to beg for this. But of course Thomas Campion deserves greater respect for his particular contribution to English literature, especially as a lyric poet.

The following, again with apologies to Thomas Campion, is a parody based on his poem-song : I Care Not for These Ladies c.1601. The music score is here.

I care not for these ladies that need such gentleness:
Give me any wanton maid who's easy to possess.
A tousled red haired damsel would indeed suffice.
If nature art disdaineth, then beauty is skin deep,
And when profoundly occupied there's little time for sleep.

If I love such maidens who give me cheese on toast
But had I to buy from courtesans, then never should I boast.
For most aesthetics, soft voluptuous forms are nice.
Give me any wanton lass who never will refuse,
But there are divers comforts that can forsooth amuse.

The ladies must have silken sheets, soft slippers for their feet.
Give me a cloggèd peasant fair, a field of golden wheat,
And a merry, babbling brook, all devoid of price.
When thus we are in each others arms, she cries, "I must away!"
But if I offer her ten quid she's more likely to stay.

Text and parody © Mirino. Sources include The Norton Anthology English Literature, V. 1. Paintings by Orazio Gentileschi 1562-1639. (Top- The Lute Player c. 1610).                                                                                                  November, 2013

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