1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas May

James Granger, in Biographical History of England (1769; 1824) 4:36-37.



Thomas May, a celebrated poet and historian, was familiarly acquainted with the greatest wits of his time; and was himself ranked in the first class of those who bore that character. He was author of several dramatic pieces, and of two historical poems of the reigns of Henry II. and Edward III. each of which is in the seven books. But his principal work is his Translation of Lucan's Pharsalia, and his Continuation of that Poem, to the death of Julius Caesar. He translated the latter into Latin verse. It is by this that we must take our estimate of him as a poet; as the imperfect state of our versification when he wrote, and the gradual flux of our language since, have contributed to sink the English far below the Latin translation. He also translated Barclay's Icon Animorum, and had a hand in the translation of his Argenis. His last work was his History of the Parliament of England, and his Abridgment of the same in Latin and English. There is more candour in this history than the royalists were willing to allow him; but there is less elegance than one would expect from the pen of so polite and classical a scholar. He was secretary to the parliament. Ob. 13 Nov. 1650, Aet. 55.