Biography of Joseph Skipsey
Born March 17, 1832, in Percy, Northumberland. Joseph Skipsey was a colliery worker at seven years of age. He made himself educated, publishing verse in local newspapers until he was gradually able to leave harsh labour behind him. He earned a living as caretaker to schools and colleges. He and his wife Sara Ann Fendley, married in 1854, had eight children. Of the 8 children, only the last three, Elizabeth, Joseph and Cuthbert survived to adulthood and old age.
Skipsey had several literary positions: Assistant Librarian, Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society (1863), and custoldian of Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford-on-Avon (1889-91). He was awarded a annual civil list pension in 1880 for his literary work, which included preparing popular editions of important poets.
Skipsey died at Gateshead on Sept. 3, 1903, and was buried in Gateshead Cemetery.
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Joseph Skipsey Poems
The butterfly from flower to flower The urchin chas’d; and, when at last He caught it in my lady’s bower, He cried, “Ha, ha!” and held it fast.
Mother wept, and father sigh’d; With delight a-glow Cried the lad, “To-morrow,” cried, “To the pit I go.”
AH, be not vain. In yon flower-bell, As rare a pearl, did I appear, As ever grew in ocean shell, To dangle at a Helen’s ear.
The Hartley Calamity
The Hartley men are noble, and Ye'll hear a tale of woe; I'll tell the doom of the Hartley men - The year of sixty two.
Get up!" the caller calls, "Get up!" And in the dead of night, To win the bairns their bite and sup, I rise a weary wight.
Misfortune is a darling, ever Most faithful to the minstrel race; Let low-bred wretches shun them, never Yet acted she a part so base.
FROM the pipe-end off it glides, Many hued appearing; What, if cynic harsh derides, Sets the boys a-staring.
'TIS little Robin Redbreast Was piping on the spray, 'And pray, mamma, what shall we do To bring him up this way?'
'I HATE outlandish things, and own I've little liking for the sonnet; 'Tis for a lazy Muse, and one Who hath a bumler in her bonnet.
The Inner Conflict
THRICE 'Iö Pæan!' let me cry, And bless the hour that I was born And born thro' love in vain to sigh— To cheer my longing heart a morn
The Bridal Gift
LAST night at the fair I met light-footed Polly, And Nanny from Earsdon and bothersome Nell, And yellow-hair'd Bessy and hazel-eyed Dolly; But Rosy for sweetness did bear off the bell.
ANNIE LEE is fair and sweet— Fair and sweet to look upon; But Annie's heart is all deceit, Therefore Annie Lee, begone.
Jack The Rover
'MY brother Jack the Rover, Sir!' 'Bless me, I thought he was a cousin?' 'Bound on a voyage to Elsinore!' 'Most merry damsels have a dozen!'
What Is Man?
WHAT is man? The question floweth From the lips with ease, and yet He who best could answer knoweth Answer true were hard to get:
Mother wept, and father sigh’d;
With delight a-glow
Cried the lad, “To-morrow,” cried,
“To the pit I go.”
Up and down the place he sped,
Greeted old and young,
Far and wide the tidings spread,
Clapp’d his hands and sung.