English poet and musician. He was the author of the critical Art of English Poesie (1602) and four books of Ayres (1601–17), for which he composed both words and music.
The Art of English Poesie is an attack on the use of rhyme and a plea for the adoption of unrhymed metres formed on classical models, such as are used in Campion's own ‘Rose-cheeked Laura, Come’. He also wrote Poemata (1595), in Latin, containing poems, elegies, and epigrams.
Campion was born in Witham, Essex. Educated at Cambridge and other European universities, he then studied law, but left this profession and practised medicine in London.
He published a first collection of airs to the lute with Philip Rosseter in 1601 and four more followed between about 1613 and 1617, all the words of the songs being his own. He composed masques that are among the best of their kind, and produced many fine lyrics notable for their metrical finish. His songs are verbally delicate, and he composed most of his own settings for them; the balance between the lyrics and the music is sensitive and satisfying. The best known are ‘There is a Garden in her Face’ and ‘My Sweetest Lesbia, Let Us Live and Love’, a translation from Catullus.
In 1613 he published a book on counterpoint, and wrote the poetry for Songs of Mourning on the death of Prince Henry, set by Giovanni Coprario. His poem ‘Neptune's Empire’ was set for chorus and orchestra by Ernest Walker.
Works five books of airs to the lute (over 100) and three separate earlier songs; songs for the production of four masques, 1607–13, including The Mask of Flowers.
Campion, Thomas: ‘Blame Not My Cheeks’
Campion, Thomas: ‘There is a Garden in Her Face’
Selected Poetry of Thomas Campion (1567–1620)
Campion, Thomas Never Weather-beaten Sail
Campion’s importance is not confined to English literature. He was one of the finest Latin poets of the English...
He wrote and composed when the art of English song was at its height; the words do not exist merely as a pretext for the music,...
Campion was educated at Cambridge in 1581-4 but left apparently without taking a degree. In 1586 he was admitted to Gray's Inn...