In 1553, Du Bellay realized the humanist dream of a voyage to Italy, traveling to Rome as secretary to his uncle, the cardinal Jean du Bellay, Henry II’s ambassador to the Pope.

Once in Italy, the poet’s enthusiasm soon faded to disillusionment with the pretensions of the papal entourage and painful reflection on the fallen grandeur of Rome and the vanity of all earthly glory. These feelings of great deception and a growing nostalgia for his homeland inspire the poetry Du Bellay wrote while in Italy and published following his return to France in 1557.

Upon his return home, Du Bellay was beset by family legal matters and medical problems, and his deafness from an earlier illness worsened. He died in 1560, at the age of 37.

The Antiquitez de Rome (1558) convey Du Bellay’s somber reflections on the grandeur and decadence of Rome, and on the inexorable passage of time. Inspired in part by classical models dealing with similar themes, Du Bellay’s sonnets nonetheless convey a very personal sense of disappointment, grounded in nostalgia for France.

The Regrets (1558) also reflect the themes of disillusionment with Rome and absence from the homeland, as well as messages to friends, sonnets inspired by daily life, and poetic reflections on the jouney home. In the Regrets, Du Bellay seeks inspiration in daily experience and in the emotions of one who suffers in exile from his native land.

The Jeux Rustiques (1558) also reject the grand ambitions outlined in the Defense, replacing the poet’s quest for eternal glory through erudition and formal perfection with the search for individual happiness founded on simplicity.

 Also in the Gordon Collection

 Gordon 1559 .D83 Tumulus Henrici Secundi Gallorum Regis Christianiss. / per Ioach. Bellaium. ; Idem Gallice totidem uersibus expressum per eumdem. ; Accessit et eiusdem elegia ad illustriss. Principem Carolum Card. Lotharingum Parisiis : Apud Federicum Morellum, in vico Bellouaco, ad vrbanam Morum, 1559. "Tumulus" in Latin and French on facing pages; French version has caption title: Le Tumbeau du treschrestien Roy Henry II. Lettre du mesme autheur à un sien amy sur la mort du feu Roy...

Gordon 1560 .I55 In Ioachimum Bellaium andinum poetam clarissimum doctorum virorum carmina et tumuli. (4to) Parisiis : Apud Federicum Morellum ..., 1560.

— Karen James, University of Virginia (2006)