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Sir John Suckling

(1606-1642)

Biography of Sir John Suckling

Sir John Suckling poet

Born to an old and wealthy Norfolk family, Suckling was educated at Westminster School, Trinity College Cambridge and Grays Inn.

He inherited the family wealth at 18 and pursued a military and ambassadorial career overseas which saw him knighted in 1830. He returned to the English court in 1632 where through his wealth and charm he was known as an elegant and popular gallant and gamester, credited with having invented the game of cribbage. Like the other cavalier poets he scorned the sonnet and the sentimentality of love poetry, writing lyrics with short lines displaying an urbane, graceful and somewhat cynical wit. He won dramatic acclaim with his performances of Aglaura but much of his work was published only after his death.

A leader of the royalists he accompanied Charles I to defeat in Scotland in 1639, and was ridiculed for his troop's bright costumes and poor performance in battle. Two years later he was involved in a plot to rescue the Earl of Stafford from the Tower of London, and had to flee to Paris to escape arrest. Here he is rumoured to have committed suicide by poison within the year.

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A Doubt of Martyrdom

O for some honest lover’s ghost,
Some kind unbodied post
Sent from the shades below!
I strangely long to know
Whether the noble chaplets wear
Those that their mistress’ scorn did bear
Or those that were used kindly.

For whatsoe’er they tell us here

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