french ronsard poems latin
BELLAY, JOACHIM nu, an eminent French poet and member of the Pleiad, was born late in 1524, at Lyre, on the left bank of the Loire, not far from Angers. In the absence of documents we are thrown upon the autobiographical passages in his poems for information about the events of his life, and these, fortunately, are copious. From these, and especially from the beautiful Latin elegy addressed to his friend Jean Morel, we learn that, deprived early of both his parents, he was left to the mercy of an elder brother, who allowed him to be brought up without other education than what his own ardent spirit supplied.
Before he reached manhood this brother also died, and Joachim found himself at the head of the family, a vigorous, manly, but half-cultured youth. Suddenly he was struck down by illness ; and, confined for many months to his bed, he softened the long hours of suffering by fervent study ; he now read the Latin and Greek poets for the first time, and felt a passionate desire to imitate them in French. In 1548, having to a great measure recovered his health, he happened to meet Ronsard in an inn in Poitiers, and a friendship instantly sprang up between them that ceased only with Du Bellay's death. He joined the six poets, who, under Dorat, were forming a society, the Pleiad, for the creation of a French school of Renaissance poetry ; and his first contribution to it was a prose volume, the famous Defence et Illustration de in Langue franfoise, which remains one of the earliest and most perfect pieces of literary criticism in existence, and overweighs in positive value much of his actual poetry. This appeared in 1549, and was followed within a twelvemonth by two volumes in verse, the Recueil de Poisie, and time collection of love-sonnets called E Olive. The latter celebrate, in the manner of Petrarch, the loveliness of a semi-mythical mistress, understood to be a Parisienne, and by name Viole, of which Olive is an anagram. The Recueil caused a quarrel with Ronsard, about which much speculation has been wasted, and which still remains obscure. It seems that Ronsard had invented a new form of the ode, which he allowed Du Bellay to see in manuscript. Ronsard's book was delayed in publication, and Du Bellay's odes, written after his metrical pattern, appeared first. Ronsard's natural and passing vexation has been exaggerated into a law-suit ; but time friends were soon on the old affectionate footing. In L'Olive Du Bellay was the first French writer to use the sonnet with fluency. After lie had translated two books of the .zEneid, which appeared in 1552, the yearning he had always felt to visit Italy was appeased by his being sent to Rome in 1550 as secretary to his influential relative, Cardinal du Belay, and he remained in that city four years and a half. At first, however, he was miserable enough. Everything around him was displeasing to him and jarred on his refined and sometimes sickly nerves. At last he fell violently in love with a lady, whose real name was Faustine, but whom he celebrates under the poetical title of Columba and Columbelle. In his Latin poems this sincere and absorbing passion burns like a clear flame, more veiled though no less burning in his French Regrets. Before he won her she was shut up from his sight by her old and jealous husband. Frenzied with grief and desire, burning with fever, exhausted with watching and physical suffering, - for his health was still very delicate, - Dn Bellay walked day and night to and fro before the house. At last, mysteriously enough, she is given to hint ; and the Latin poems end in rapturous delight. At this point, however, and possibly for this reason, he was hurried back to Paris, where he became canon of Notre Dame in June 1555. He returned by Venice, the Grisons, and Geneva, and was received by his friends in France with transport. He set himself to literary labour of various kinds, publishing his Latin poems and his French sonnets called Les Antiquitez de Rome, in 1558, and his greatest lyrical work, the Regrets, in 1559. In the latter year, however, a calumny deprived him of the protection of the •cardinal, and threw him into the deepest distress and embarrassment. The nature of this charge is not known, but it must have quickly passed away, for later on in that year we find him preparing a new volume of poems, Les Jeux Rustigues, for the press, and nominated archbishop of Bordeaux. He did not live to enjoy this distinction, for on the 1st of January 1560, he died of apoplexy, and was buried in Mitre-Dame de Paris. Like Ronsard he was very deaf.
His collected works did not appear until 1568. The early death of the French Ovid, as he has been called, was a serious loss to European literature, for Joachim du Bellay was at the height of his power, and still rapidly advancing. His poems have g, force, an occasional sublimity, and a direct pathos for which we look in rain among his contemporaries ; and none but Ronsard excelled him in facility and grace. His most famous poem, Un Vanneur de _BM aux Vents, one of the loveliest lyrics of the age, was written shortly before his death, and appeared in the Jeux Rustigues in 1560 ; it is nominally a paraphrase from the Latin of Naugerius. The standard edition of the French works of Joachim du Belay is that published in 2 vols. by Lemerre in 1866, and edited by Ch. MartyLaveaux. Spenser translated sixty of Du Bellay's Roman sonnets into English, and published them in 1591. A very delicate essay on the poet will be found in Mr W. H. Pater's Studies in the History of the Renaissance, 1873.