1627 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas May

Ben Jonson, "To my chosen Friend, the learned Translator of Lucan, Thomas May, Esquire" May, Lucan's Pharsalia (1627) sig. A7.



When Rome, I reade thee in thy mighty paire,
And see both climing up the slippery staire
Of Fortunes wheele by Lucan driv'n about,
And the world in it, I begin to doubt,
At every line some pinn thereof should slacke
At least, if not the generally Engine cracke.
But when againe I veiw the parts so peiz'd,
And those in number so, and measure rais'd,
As neither Pompey's popularitie,
Caesar's ambition, Cato's libertie,
Calme Brutus tenor start; but all along
Keepe due proportion in the ample song,
It makes me ravish'd with just wonder, cry,
What Muse, or rather God of harmony
Taught Lucan these true moodes! replyes my sence
What godds but those of arts, and eloquence?
Phoebus, and Hermes? They whose tongue, or pen
Are still th' interpreters twixt godds, and men!
But who hath them interpreted, and brought
Lucans whole frame unto us, and so wrought,
As not the smallest joint, or gentlest word
In the great masse, or machine there is stirr'd?
The selfe same Genius! so the worke will say.
The Sunne translated, or the Sonne of May.
Your true freind in Judgement
and Choise
Ben: Jonson.