Ronsard, Pierre de

Ronsard, Pierre de pyĕr də rôNsärˈ [key], 1524–1585, French poet. As page, then squire, Ronsard seemed destined for a career at court both in France and abroad. However, deafness turned him to a more secluded and studious life at the Collège de Coqueret where he became leader of the Pléiade (see under Pleiad). Named poet royal, he wrote a great number of poems on many themes, especially patriotism, love, and death: sonnets on Petrarch, odes after Pindar and Horace, elegies, eclogues, and songs. Of his love poems the best-known appear in Sonnets pour Hélène (1578; tr. by Humbert Wolfe, 1934). Ronsard's most ambitious effort was La Franciade (1572), an unfinished epic. He also wrote (1562) two long patriotic poems deploring the Wars of Religion. Ronsard's reputation was long in eclipse, but after Sainte-Beuve's favorable criticism he assumed his place as one of the greatest of French poets.

See Songs and Sonnets of Pierre de Ronsard (tr. 1924); biography by M. Bishop (1940); studies by I. Silver (1961 and 1971) and B. R. Leslie (1979).

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