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.
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.
Mother wept, and father sigh’d; With delight a-glow Cried the lad, “To-morrow,” cried, “To the pit I go.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
HEY Robin, jolly Robin, Tell me how thy lady doth? Is she laughing, is she sobbing Is she gay, or grave, or both?
Thistle And Nettle
'Twos on a night, with sleet and snow, From out the north a tempest blew, When Thistle gathered nerve to go The little Nettle's self to woo.
ANNIE LEE is fair and sweet— Fair and sweet to look upon; But Annie's heart is all deceit, Therefore Annie Lee, begone.
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.
'Twas on the Thursday morning, on
The first month of the year,
When there befell the thing that well
May rend the heart to hear.