Thomas Tusser and the Poetics of the Plow

Scott Oldenburg
2021
This essay argues that Thomas Tusser's popular book of georgic verse, Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry, offered a counter to developments in courtly poetry under Elizabeth I. Critics have long disparaged Tusser's poetry as naïvely rustic, but Tusser was not an uneducated peasant who happened to pick up enough literacy to pen a book of poems. On the contrary, Tusser was well-educated and deeply familiar with trends in Continental and English poetry. He studied under John Redford and
more » ... Redford and Nicholas Udall, and he attended King's College. He worked as a court musician before turning to farming and georgic verse. In his revisions of specific poems, appropriations of poetic forms, and his recollections of the mid-Tudor court, Tusser was responding to the fact that Elizabeth was not, as some had hoped, returning England to the heyday of popular commonwealth discourse that developed under Edward VI. The courtier-turned-farmer-poet was actively engaged in a poetic project to keep the populist aesthetics and politics of the mid-Tudor commonwealth alive
doi:10.17613/0bxf-rb94 fatcat:cwi7tprc3jelbm2h7ebd6v2tea