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Title: Les 'contraires seiours': Scève's Use of the Diana Myth in the 'Délie' of 1544
Contributor(s): Southwood, Jane (author)
Publication Date: 2008
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Abstract: Maurice Scève's 'Délie' of 1544 is the first 'canzoniere' of the French sixteenth century. It is also the first emblem book in French. As such it is a significant work, but it is significant in other ways. Published some five years before the poet Du Bellay's apology for vernacular poetry, 'Défence et illustration de la langue française' ('Defence and Illustration of the French Language'), in which Du Bellay advocates the use of French rather than Latin as a vehicle for poetic utterance, the 'Délie' anticipates many of the ideas of the 'Défence'. Scève wrote other works as well as the 'Délie': neo-Latin verse, several eclogues in French, including 'La Saulsaye, églogue de la vie solitaire', published in Lyon in 1547, and one on the death of the dauphin, the eldest son of Francois Premier, who was believed to have been poisoned: 'Anion, églogue sur le trépas du dauphin, fils de François ler', published in Lyon in 1536. As his contribution to a poetry competition—which he won—he also composed 'blasons', poems in praise of various parts of a woman's body, his 'blasons' being rather more elevated than most. His subjects are the forehead, the eyebrow, the tear, the sigh and the throat. Evidences of his 'blasons' are to be found in the love-sequence under consideration here. He also wrote a long philosophical poem called the 'Microcosme', published in Lyon in 1562. But it is the 'Délie' which has earned him the greatest respect. These four hundred and forty-nine poems, or 'dizains' as they are called, each comprising ten lines of ten syllables, are remarkable for their intellectual, scholarly and emotional density. This very density accounts for the reputation he had among his contemporaries (and subsequently) as a difficult poet. His verse uses Latinate syntax and vocabulary and requires a knowledge of the Bible, of mythology, of classical writers, of Neo-platonic doctrine and of iconological lore. Once these obstacles are overcome, however, the freshness and vigour of his vision become apparent.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Renaissance Poetry and Drama in Context: Essays for Christopher Wortham, p. 175-195
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Place of Publication: Newcastle, United Kingdom
ISBN: 1847186106
Field of Research (FOR): 200511 Literature in French
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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