The Life and Poems of Nicholas Grimald

The Life and Poems of Nicholas Grimald

The Life and Poems of Nicholas Grimald

The Life and Poems of Nicholas Grimald

Excerpt

To-day the name of Nicholas Grimald is almost unknown even to the students of sixteenth-century literature: Warton's History of English Poetry devotes but seven pages to an account of his work, and these are filled for the most part with quotations from it; while Courthope History of English Poetry, and the Cambridge History of English Literature, give much less space to him. Even less is known about his life than his work. Edward Arber, in the preface to his edition of Tottel's Miscellany, makes a mistake as to the identity of the poet; while the brief account of him given in the Dictionary of National Biography is not altogether correct in regard to the facts of his life. Although Grimald has become but a mere name, or, at most, but a shadowy figure, on the pages of literary history, he is a personage of real consequence, a very vital force, not only in English literary history, but in that of the Continent as well. As teacher, poet, translator, preacher, and dramatist, he made his mark, a mark that has endured; and although his work is well-nigh forgotten, it is of no less significance.

In his day Grimald was regarded as the foremost alumnus of Cambridge, and one of the greatest scholars in England. Next to Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, he was the principal contributor to the first printed anthology of English poetry, then known as Songes and Sonettes, now known as Tottel's Miscellany, the first and by far the most popular of the early anthologies. The sonnets which he and other poets contributed to this volume were the first published compositions of this sort in the English language, while his two poems in blank verse, included in the book, were possibly the first ever seen in England. As a contributor to this volume, and as a teacher of rhetoric in Christ Church, Oxford, he probably did more to influence the new movement in poetry, and to popularize the new . . .

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