(1822 – 1862)
Mei Lev Alexandrovich (1822 – 1862), poet, playwright.
Born February 13 (25 N. p.) In Moscow in a noble family. At the age of 9 he was admitted to the Moscow Nobility Institute, where he studied for five years, then was transferred to the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum.
In 1841, after graduating from the Lyceum, he was appointed to the office of the Moscow Governor-General, where he served until 1849. At this time he began publishing his poems, translations, stories, wrote the drama The Tsar’s Bride (1849). In 1850 he joined the “young editorial office” of the magazine Moskvityanin, with whom he had previously worked actively, headed the departments of Russian literature and foreign literature until 1853, when he moved to Petersburg.
The “Library for Reading” magazine publishes his poems and prose, here May was led by a department of journalism for a while. His literary circle was composed of such writers as A. Pisemsky, I. Goncharov, I. Turgenev, J. Polonsky, N. Chernyshevsky, and others. He led a bohemian way of life, which subsequently affected his health.
In these years he published collections of Poems (1857), Poems and Translations (1861). The mood of the poet in connection with the Crimean War was reflected in the verses on biblical themes: the poem “Judith” (1855), the poem “The Blinded One”, “The Psalm of David…”, etc. Poems on ancient themes celebrate earthly joys, beauty of life (“Freene”, “Galatea”, “Plyasunya”). In the “Jewish songs” (1849 – 60),
Mastery of May manifested itself in poetic works created on the grounds of Russian folklore and chronicle tales (“The Magus”, “Alexander Nevsky”, “The Song of Boyar Eupatius Kolovrat”).
Mei is a talented translator of ancient, Slavic and Western European poets: Anakreont, Schiller, Byron, Mickiewicz, Shevchenko, etc. Many of Mey’s poems are put to music, and the plays “The Tsar’s Bride” and “Pskovityanka” by N. Rimsky-Korsakov are written opera. May died May 16 (28 BC) in 1862 in St. Petersburg.
A short biography from the book: Russian writers and poets. A short biographical dictionary. Moscow, 2000.