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Sir John Suckling 1609 - 1642

English cavalier poet and playwright best known for his lyrics. He wrote four plays including Aglaura which had two fifth acts, one tragic and one with a happy outcome and a comedy, The Goblins (1638), much influenced by Shakespeare's Tempest and generally thought to be his best. His chief works are included in Fragmenta Aurea (1646, enlarged 1658) including his best known lyrics 'A Ballad Upon a Wedding' and 'Why so Pale and Wan, Fond Lover?'. He also wrote a satire A Session of the Poets (1637), a send-up of contemporary poets.

Other cavalier poets include Carew and Lovelace.

Biography

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.

Available Poems
A Ballad Upon a Wedding
I Prithee Send Me Back My Heart
Love Turned to Hatred
Lutea Allison
Out Upon it, I Have Loved
Sonnet
When, Dearest, I But Think of Thee
Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover?

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