Ronsard, Pierre de


Ronsard, Pierre de
(1524-1585)
   French poet, the leading fig-ure of the group of poets that called itself la Pléiade. Born into a noble family and trained as an aristocratic page in the service of two children of King Francis I, Ronsard was educated in Latin and Greek by tutors. In the early 1540s he began writing poetry in both Latin and French, and after the death of the duke of Orléans in 1545, he lived in the home of the humanist Lazare de Baïf, where he con-tinued his study of Greek and Latin under the scholar and poet Jean Dorat. He also studied under Dorat at the University of Paris (1547-1549). In the late 1540s and the 1550s the group of young po-ets, all educated in humanism and all attracted by Italian poetry, came together in an effort to create a French poetic style inspired by the classics and the Italian poets and distinct from medieval French poetry.
   Ronsard published his first collection of poems in the new style, Les quatres livres des odes /Four Books of Odes, in 1550. Although the ode, a genre with classical origins, remained one of his favorite forms, he also adopted the Italian sonnet. His collection Les amours (1552) was modeled on the Canzoniere of Petrarch. Ronsard's love poems were so laden with mythological references that another mem-ber of the poetic group published a commentary to explain them. He published a second collection of Amours in 1555. Two later collec-tions of lyrics, mostly sonnets, appeared in Ronsard's collected works in 1578, Sonnets et madrigals pour Astrée and Sonnets pour Hélène. The poet also aspired to write a national epic in the new style and in 1572 published the first four books of La Franciade, a work he never completed. He also functioned as a court poet. In this role he wrote poems defending the policies of Catherine de Medici toward the French Huguenots. His last poems (Les derniers vers) were com-posed on his deathbed in 1585.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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