Ronsard, Pierre (1524 – 1585) French Naturalist and Poet
Pierre Ronsard (1524 – 1585)
French naturalist and poet
Pierre Ronsard transformed his life from one of possible anguish into one in which he created a legacy that has lasted for centuries. Born into a noble family in near Vendome, France in September of 1524, Ronsard was the younger of their sons. His life was one of privilege—from the benefits of a classical education in his family's residence at the Chateau de la Poissoinniere to being sent away to the College of Navarre, in Paris, at the early age of nine. Before graduating from college, he left and was appointed page to the Duke of Orleans, son of King Francis I. Later, he would become page to James V, King of Scotland where he stayed for three years. While there and through time spent in England Ronsard became proficient in the English language. His travels then took him to Germany, Italy, and other countries throughout Europe.
In 1841 Ronsard was afflicted with an incurable deafness. Plans for a military career were no longer an option for him. He was only 17 and decided to retire from public life and pursue his studies again. For seven years he studied Greek at the College de Coqueret; and he became further involved with his passion of poetry. By 1550 he was awarded with the title of "Prince of Poets," successful in his desire to find a new direction for French poetry. He continued to be a favorite of royalty abroad. He received a diamond from Queen Elizabeth of England who was a relative. Mary Stuart of Scotland escaped the woes of prison life through Ronsard's poetry. The city of Toulouse in his native France presented him with a solid silver award in tribute to the goddess Minerva.
Ronsard remained in ill health while writing volumes of poetry that was revolutionary in many ways, including the words he carried into it and enhance the entire French vocabulary. Not only did he add words from Greek and Latin; he also uncovered old romantic dialects, and utilized the technical languages found in the trades, in science, and in sports. Writing for him produced harmony for others. Scholars consider him to be the best lyrical poet in France until the romantic age that arrived with the nineteenth century poets. He was a figure known and beloved throughout his country, a celebration that would rival only writer Victor Hugo nearly 300 years later. One of his many poems, Roses would inspire an honor bestowed on the two hundreth anniversary of his death—the Pierre Ronsard rose, a delicate pink known also as the Eden Climber.
During the last years of his life Ronsard became a minor monk with the Priory of Saint Cosme on an ancient island on the Loire River. The original buildings were established between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries. Ronsard's original works are contained there in the Prior's house, rebuilt over a hundred years following his death in 1585. Visitors to the priory (reservations arerequired) can visit Ronsard's tomb, walk through the gardens, see his original works, and attend festivals in his honor. His devotion to love and nature has given him the honor of being known as the "Father of Nature." Many present-day environmentalists credit Ronsard with beginning the movement toward preservation of lands, forests, and gardens. He carried his passion with him and gave of it so generously to all his readers, and to generations following that would enjoy the graceful harmony with which he presented it.
[Jane Spear ]
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Priory of Saint Cosme, Loire France 33-(2) 47 37 32 70, <http://www.cg37.fr/>