L’Hymne de France, 1549
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.
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.