1540c.2

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Nobleman Recalls "Palm Play" in Royal Court

Salience Noteworthy
City/State/Country: England
Game Palm Play
Immediacy of Report Retrospective
Age of Players Youth
Text

 

So cruel prison how could betide,alas,

As proud Windsor [Castle]? Where I in lust [pleasure] and joy

With a king's son my childish years did pass

. . .

Where each of us did plead the other's right;

The palm play [handball?], where despoiled [disrobed] for the  game,

With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love

Have missed the ball and got sight of our dame,  

 

[The full selection, and email notes by John Bowman, are shown below.]  

Sources

Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey), So Cruel a Prison, Norton Anthology of Poetry, 3rd edition, 1983:  from Songes and sonettes, written by the right honourable Lorde Henry Howard, late Earle of Surrey (London, A. R. Tottel, 1557).

Comment

We are not certain that "palm play" could have been a baserunning game.  It may be an Anglicized form of jeu de paume, a likely French antecedent to tennis.

The reference to "large grene courtes" in the full ball-play stanza suggests a tennis or handball-type pastime.

 

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Query

Have scholars indicated the likely nature of "palm play?"  Could it have involved the batting of a ball with the palm?

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Submitted by John Bowman
Submission Note Email of 8/14/2014
Has Supplemental Text Yes



Comments


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Supplemental Text

Email from John Bowman to Protoball, 8/14/2014 --

 

Now, the second poem is one I was prepared to submit  on the assumption that I was like the game I played as a boy during school recess when there was no equipment available except a tennis ball: one just used one's fist or palm to hit a ball before running to a base. Having gone to all the trouble to copy it, I began to get nervous about just what it might refer to and only then did I google it and discover that indeed the Protoball site has listed it with its other name, "slap ball."   So I guess it might rate a notice.

 

It's a poem by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (ca. 1517-1547) titled "So cruel prison" [after its opening phrase]. Surrey, of major aristocracy, was raised as young man in Windsor Palace as playmate of Henry Fitzroy, illegitimate son of Henry VIII. In 1537, after Fitzroy's death, Surrey was briefly imprisoned at Windsor for having struck another courtier. Norton Anthology attributes this poem to that imprisonment--although it evidently was not published until 1557, 10 years after he was later imprisoned and executed by Henry V!

 

I do not see any other dated references in Protoball to "palm play."-But I should say that the annotator of the Norton poem says was palm ball is "Handball"--quite a different game from 'slap ball," at least as handball is played today.  Then again, the annotator may regard "handball" as another name for slap ball.

 

In any case, here are the relevant lines:.

 

So cruel prison how could betide,alas,

As proud Windsor? Where I in lust [pleasure] and joy

With a king's son my childish years did pass

In greater feast than Priam's sons of Troy;

Where each sweet place returns a taste full sour;

The large green courts where we were wont to hove [linger]

With eyes cast up unto the maidens; tower,

And easy sighs, such as folks draw in love;

The stately sales [halls], the ladies bright of hue,

The dances short, long tales of great delight;

With words and looks that tigers could but rue,

Where each of us did plead the other's right;

The palm play [handball], where despoiled [disrobed] for the  game,

With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love

Have missed the ball and got sight of our dame, . . . .  

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