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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

VIII. The New English Poetry

§ 10. Nicholas Grimald

From one point of view, Grimald is a very interesting poet. About Wyatt, Surrey and Vaux there is no trace of the professional author. Their poetry was partly the accomplishment of their class, partly the natural expression of feelings aroused by their own lives and the life of their day. Grimald was no courtier, and his literary work was that of the professed man of letters. Educated at Cambridge and Oxford, he became chaplain to bishop Ridley, under whom he translated a work of Aeneas Sylvius and Laurentius Valla’s book against the donation of Constantine. Early in Mary’s reign, he was imprisoned for heresy, but recanted, and is said to have become a spy during the Marian persecutions. In 1556, Tottel had published Grimald’s translation of Cicero De Officiis; and it has been supposed, not without possibility, that he was associated with Tottel, perhaps as editor, in the publication of the Miscellany. The first edition (Juen, 1557) contained forty of his poems, and gives his name in full. In the second edition, published a month later at least thirty of these poems have disappeared, and the author’s name has shrunk to N. G. The facts have never been explained. Grimald is particularly fond of “poulter’s measure” and long lines, which, mainly by good use of his learning, he succeeds in keeping above the level of doggerel. He excels in complimentary and elegiac verse; and has left at least two delightful poems: the Funerall song, upon the deceas of Annes his mother, which is not only a quaint mixture of learning and homeliness, but a golden tribute to the subject of the elegy, and The Garden, which celebrates, with unquestionable enjoyment, the pleasures and profit to be drawn from nature. In another of his poems, The Lover asketh pardon of his dere, for fleeyng from her, in which he plays upon his lady’s name of Day, Courthope finds the Petrarchian convention replaced by “the earliest notes in English poetry of that manner which culminated in the ‘metaphysical’ style.” The value of Grimald, however, lies not so much in his matter or his music, as in his attempt to be distinct and terse through the application of his knowledge of the classics to English poetry. He studied and translated Latin epigrams, and, to some extent, was a forerunner of the later classical influence on English diction and construction.