Campion Thomas 1567 - 1620 (53)


Campion's songs and music

I Care Not For These Ladies,

What if a day.

Thomas Campion (1567 - 1620) was an English poet and composer, born on 12 February 1567 in London. When he was 10 years old, his father died and a few years later so did his mother; Thomas and his sister were sent by their step father to study in Cambridge, from where they rarely returned home. In 1584 Campion enrolled in law school; he dropped out and went to medical school, the same time he had already begun writing poems. In 1591 he published 5 poems; his second work was written in Latin and was an epic poem on the victory of the English against the Spanish armada.

He gradually progressed from writing standard poetry to writing lyrics and music that he composed himself. Campion became very popular with his music, often singing in aristocratic circles and for the king; he composed the mourn music after Prince Henry's death, as well as wedding music for Queen Elizabeth's wedding. In 1620, at the age of 53, he died suddenly, probably from the plague. He was never married and had no children.

While Campion had attained a considerable reputation in his own day, in the years that followed his death his works sank into complete oblivion. The media in which he mainly worked was the masque and the song-book; the first was too costly to be popular and it was practically extinguished. The song-books were even more ephemeral, the Puritan ascendancy, with its distaste for all secular music, put an end to the madrigal. Its loss involved that of many hundreds of dainty lyrics, including those of Campion. It was due to the work of A. H. Bullen, who first published a collection of the poet's works in 1889 that his genius was recognized and his place among the foremost rank of Elizabethan lyric poets restored.