Du Bellay. Oeuvres francoises

Oeuvres françoises de Ioachim Du-Bellay

Joachim du Bellay (1522-1560)


(Click on the call number to view the digital facsimile of the book.)

Gordon 1569 .D83

Oeuvres françoises de Ioachim Du-Bellay, gentil homme Angeuin, & poëte excellent de ce temps. Reueuës, & de nouueau augmentees de plusieurs poësies non encores auparauant imprimees. / Au roy treschrestien Charles IX.


Defense et illustration de la langue francoise
L'olive, et autres oeuures poetiques
Recueil de poesie presente a... princesse Madame
Deux liures de l'Eneide de Virgile
Diuers poemes de I. Du Bellay
Les regrets, et autres oeuures poetiques
Antiquitez de Rome

Diuers ieux rustiques

Epithaleme sur le mariage de ...Prince Philabert
 Emanuel... &...Princesse Marguerite de France

Paris : Federic Morel, 1569. (8vo)

Du Bellay died at the age of 37, having published numerous collections of poetry that first followed then contradicted the doctrine put forth in his famous Défense et illustration de la langue française (1549). On behalf of the Pléïade poets (Du Bellay, Ronsard, Baïf and their compatriots) the Défense defines the poet as a visionary figure, both learned and divinely inspired, whose duty is to enhance the glory of the French language through verse, in order to rival the achievements of the Ancients. Du Bellay’s collected works, the Oeuures françoises de Ioachim Du-Bellay, gentil homme Angeuin, & poëte excellent de ce temps were published posthumously in 1569. From the first title in the collection (the Défense of 1549, with its lofty vision of the poet’s role) to the pastoral rejection of such grand ambitions in the Jeux Rustiques (1558), Du Bellay’s collected works mark an important transition in French poetry of the mid-sixteenth century. Du Bellay’s Oeuvres convey first the optimism of a growing humanist movement, then increasing disappointment with humanist intellectual goals and pessimism regarding the attempt to construct earthly glory for oneself, in the face of the inescapable ravages of time.

More about Du Bellay and his works

Born into a family of nobility in Anjou, Du Bellay was orphaned at a young age, and his early education in the country was neglected. As a young man, he studied law in Poitiers, where he met Marc Antoine Muret and Jacques Peletier du Mans and began writing poems in Latin and in French. Du Bellay subsequently met Pierre de Ronsard and joined him in 1547 at the Collège de Coqueret in Paris, where the young poets pursued studies of Latin and Greek and read the great literary and philosophical works of antiquity and of Italy under the tutelage of the humanist Jean Dorat. At the Collège de Coqueret, Ronsard and Du Bellay formed a group called “la Brigade.” The seven members of the group, later adopting the name of the “Pléïade,” sought to make the French language and its literature grow in stature to the point of rivaling the grandeur of the classic languages.

Du Bellay’s Défense et illustration de la langue françoyse (1549) served as the group’s manifesto, asserting the dignity of the French language in keeping with Renaissance humanists’ growing support for the vernacular, and calling on poets to draw upon and then surpass the literary models of Greece, Rome and Italy. According to Du Bellay and his compatriots, the poet was not only an inspired artist, but also a skilled artisan who must find inspiration in classical and Italian models, then transform them into something new and capable of enhancing the glory of the French language. The Pléïade upheld a lofty ideal of poetry for poetry’s sake and of the poet as one who expresses universal truths.

Du Bellay’s first collection of fifty sonnets, l’Olive (published in 1549, then in an expanded edition of 115 sonnets in 1550), reflects the ideals outlined in the Défense and establishes Du Bellay as a master of the sonnet form, inspired by Neoplatonic themes and Petrarchan motifs.

This love poetry does not so much express amorous sentiments for one beloved woman as a passion for formal perfection that incorporates Petrarchan themes and figures -- antitheses and oxymorons, for example, -- and metaphors borrowed from classical mythology.

The Neoplatonic notion of the climb to the world of forms and then to realm of Ideas pervades the collection, yet here the upward voyage of the soul becomes the poet’s ascent to glory, in keeping with the doctrine proclaimed by the Défense.