Authors: Pierre de Ronsard

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

French poet

Author Works


L’Hymne de France, 1549

Odes, 1550

Les Amours, 1552

Cinquième Livre des odes, 1552

Le Bocage, 1554

Continuation des amours, 1555

Les Hymnes, 1555-1556

Nouvelle Continuation des amours, 1556

Discours des misères de ce temps, 1562

Résponce aux injures et calomnies de je ne sçay quels prédicans et ministres de Genève, 1563

La Franciade, 1572

Les Amours sur la mort de Marie, 1578

Sonnets pour Hélène, 1578 (Sonnets for Helen, 1932)

Les Derniers Vers, 1586

Songs and Sonnets, 1903

Salute to Ronsard, 1960

Poems of Pierre de Ronsard, 1979 (Nicholas Kilmer, editor)


Abbregé de l’art poëtique français, 1565


The most important literary movement in sixteenth century France centered around the “Pléiade,” a group of seven poets. Although the manifesto of the group, Defénse et illustration de la langue Française, was written by his close friend Joachim du Bellay, Pierre de Ronsard (rohn-sahr) remains the most famous of the coterie.{$I[AN]9810000380}{$I[A]Ronsard, Pierre de}{$I[geo]FRANCE;Ronsard, Pierre de}{$I[tim]1524;Ronsard, Pierre de}

He was born in 1524 at his family’s Château de la Possonnière near Couture, the son of an official of the household of Francis I. After a short period at the College of Navarre in Paris, he was appointed a royal page. He studied at the Collège de Coqueret under the eminent humanist Jean Dorat. A high fever made him partially deaf in 1543, but this handicap did not prevent him from learning Latin and Greek. The depth of his classical learning reveals itself in his creative imitations of Greek and Latin poems.

Later Ronsard spent three years in Great Britain and was sent on various diplomatic missions. He was a special favorite of Charles IX, who called Ronsard his “master of poetry.” Ronsard had a long and distinguished literary career. When he began writing poetry in the late 1540’s, he was a fairly servile imitator of classical sources, but he eventually developed into a truly original poet who composed elegies and odes on philosophical and religious subjects as well as well-crafted love sonnets. The aim of the Pléiade was to reform French verse by adhering more closely to classic models: “Follow the ancients” was their motto. Ronsard insisted, however, that each imitation be creative.

Ronsard died at the priory of Saint-Cosme, near Tours, on December 27, 1585. For two centuries after his death, Ronsard’s reputation waned. His work was, however, rediscovered during the Romantic era, and his poetry was once again appreciated. The charm of Ronsard’s nature poetry and the magnificence of his language and metrics still bring pleasure to readers, more than four centuries after his death.

BibliographyCampo, Roberto. Ronsard’s Contentious Sisters: The Paragon Between Poetry and Painting in the Works of Pierre de Ronsard. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Continues previous studies of the relationship of poetry and painting as expressed in Ronsard’s poetry, especially of words to pictorial images in both narrative and portraits.Cave, Terence, ed. Ronsard the Poet. London: Methuen, 1973. A thorough biography of the poet with a bibliography and index.Fallon, Jean M. Voice and Vision in Ronsard’s “Les Sonnets pour Hélène.” New York: P. Lang, 1993. A historical and critical study of Ronsard’s love poetry. Includes bibliographical references and index.Ford, Philip. Ronsard’s Hymnes: A Literary and Iconographical Study. Tempe, Ariz.: MRTS, 1997. An examination of the parallels between methods and form in Ronsard’s hymns.Jones, Kenneth R. W. Pierre de Ronsard. New York: Twayne, 1970. A brief overview of Ronsard’s life and the major collections of his work, offering a descriptive rather than critical analysis.Silver, Isidore. The Intellectual Evolution of Ronsard. 3 vols. St. Louis, Mo.: Washington University Press, 1969, 1973; Geneva: Droz, 1992. A massive study of the traditions and literary influences that shaped Ronsard’s poetic works. Volume 1 covers the formative influences, volume 2 Ronsard’s general theory of poetry, and volume 3 Ronsard’s philosophic thought. Bibliographical references, indexes.Silver, Isidore. Ronsard and the Hellenic Renaissance in France. 3 vols. Geneva: Droz, 1981, 1985, 1987. Places Ronsard’s poetry in the context of the main currents in the French Renaissance, especially Greek philology and cultural studies. Examines such topics as Ronsard and the Greek epic and the Grecian lyre.Sturm-Maddox, Sara. Ronsard, Petrarch, and the Amours. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999. A critical analysis of Les Amours and the influence of Petrarch on this and other poems by Ronsard. Includes bibliographical references and an index.
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