April 1, 2021

Poetry to Help Your Public Speaking: The Sweet Spring of Thomas Nashe

Poems to Read Aloud , The Buckley Experience , Resources , Public Speaking

The Buckley School's founder believed that all speakers should hone their presentation skills by reading poetry out loud. We keep that worthwhile practice alive by including a poem in our magazine each month for you to read aloud.

"Nashe was something of a phenomenon in the 1590s....Some readers were offended by his extemporal wit and so dubbed him a filthy malcontent, more suited to perverse raillery and base dildo poems than to true art. Others prized the invective of this 'young Juvenal.'"

– Reid Barbour, writing about Nashe for "Poetry"

Say "Elizabethan literature," and most people think Shakespeare. But those who study that era say Thomas Nashe is the literary voice you need to know to understand the times.

Nashe was a poet, playwright, and prolific pamphleteer. In an article about him, the Folger Shakespeare Library describes his writing: 

Nashe's prose is characterized by its excoriating and brilliant wit. He has the panache to move with ease from the style of a sermon to brutal satirical onslaughts, juxtaposing learned classical references with observations of the popular stuff of everyday life.

Reading Nashe is an extraordinary experience. His long, carefully constructed sentences make inspiring and disturbing connections. 

Nashe not only shaped English literature as we understand it today but also expanded its range and possibilities. It is clear that he had a major impact on numerous other writers, especially Shakespeare.

A woodcut mocking Nashe as a jailbird, from "The Trimming of Thomas Nashe, Gentleman" written by Richard Litchfield in 1597, when Nashe would've been around 30 years old.

The son of a parson, Nashe was not shy about writing things that caused him trouble. When one of his satirical works offended London officials, he was held for a brief time in Newgate prison. His collaboration with Ben Jonson on the play The Isle of Dogs was deemed seditious; his home was raided, his papers seized, and Nashe only avoided jail by fleeing to the country.

The precise date of his death is not known, but historians have determined Nashe was around 33 years old when he died—managing to make a significant impact on literature with his work of barely a decade.

You can practice your diction—and delight your cohabitants when you attempt making bird sounds—by reading this Nashe poem out loud.

Spring, the sweet spring


Spring, the sweet spring, is the year's pleasant king, 

Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring, 

Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing: 

      Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo! 


The palm and may make country houses gay, 

Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day, 

And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay: 

      Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo! 


The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet, 

Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit, 

In every street these tunes our ears do greet: 

      Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!

            Spring, the sweet spring!

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