Du Bellay and Marot: Imitation, Creation, Destruction

Hassan Melehy
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Criticism rarely addresses the relationship between the poetic œuvres of Clément Marot (1496–1544) and Joachim Du Bellay (1522­–60), despite their status as two of the most important writers in early French Petrarchism. This separation results from taking Du Bellay at his word in the Deffence et illustration de la langue françoyse (1549), in which his predecessor serves as an example to avoid. However, elsewhere in his work Du Bellay appears to praise Marot: in the “Epitaphe de Clement Marot” with which Du Bellay concludes his first sonnet sequence L’Olive (1549), and in his later work, the Regrets and the Songe (both 1558), in two unacknowledged quotations from Marot’s translations of Petrarch (1304­–74). There is no contradiction, the author argues, between disparaging and praising Marot: poetic imitation, as Du Bellay defines it in the Deffence, involves destruction as much as creation; creation relies on the pillage of past monuments, effectively grave robbery.

Keywords: Joachim Du Bellay, Clément Marot, Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca), French Petrarchism, La Deffence et illustration de la langue françoyse, sonnet, poetic imitation


Two of the most important names in the foundation of French Petrarchism are Clément Marot (1496–1544) and Joachim Du Bellay (1522–60), the former for writing the first sonnet in French and translating six by Petrarch (1304–74), the latter for writing the first extended sonnet sequence in French and hence establishing a genre that quickly proliferated. But other than the fact of this shared legacy, commentaries rarely address them together, slimly acknowledging continuity between them. This separation rests on a persistence of the schema of literary history that Du Bellay and his likely collaborators formulate in La Deffence et illustration de la langue françoyse (1549, 1550), according to which Marot belongs to older, simpler verse, not worthy of being taken seriously in the new era of enrichment of the French language.[1] Integral to this schema is a performative reading of the Deffence that bolsters the monumental place this texts assigns itself. The Deffence certainly deserves an important place because of the effect the Pléiade has had on the subsequent history of not just French but Western verse, in which to this day the sonnet remains a form of choice and the sonnet sequence a model for organizing collections of verse. However, the schema relies on an omission of several references that Du Bellay elsewhere makes to Marot that suggest an at least intermittent admiration.

It might well be the case that Du Bellay’s own tastes changed over time, or that he adjusted them to align with his fellow members of the Brigade as it became the Pléiade. To call Du Bellay, as Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani has, a “fils ingrat” of Marot “s’il en fut jamais” is entirely sound (724). Nonetheless, the position of Marot’s work in Du Bellay also has implications for a critical understanding of the theory and practice of imitation. In keeping with a reading of the Deffence that I first proposed many years ago, imitation as Du Bellay both theorizes and practices it involves not only admiration of literary precursors in the form of selective inclusion in what we now call a canon, but also, in the very process of selecting precursors, dismantling them (Melehy, “Du Bellay and the Space of Early Modern Culture”).[2] That is, for Du Bellay, the process of imitation by which worthy poetry must take shape is as much destruction as creation. In what follows I will further develop observations I made in a 2006 essay that focuses on a single sonnet from Du Bellay’s Songe (Melehy, “Grand’ richesse”). My scope here is a little broader.

From tomb to immortality

The first of Du Bellay’s admirational references to Marot, the most obvious because it’s the only explicit one, is the “Epitaphe de Clement Marot” with which L’Olive ends; L’Olive was published along with the Deffence in April 1549, about five years after Marot’s death. The second and third references, in Les Antiquitez de Rome (1558) and the Songe he appends to it, are unattributed, nearly word-for-word borrowings from Marot’s translations of Petrarch. Du Bellay opens sonnet 5 of the Antiquitez with the phrase, “Qui voudra voir tout ce qu’ont peu nature” (Du Bellay, Les Antiquitez, sonnet 5, 8, v. 1). This is a slightly altered rendition of the first line of the third of Marot’s Six Sonnetz de Petrarque sur la mort de sa dame Laure (1539): “Qui vouldra veoir tout ce que peult Nature” (Marot “Six Sonnetz,” sonnet 3, 341, v.1). Marot closely translates, almost transcribes, Petrarch’s words from Sonnet 248 of the Canzoniere (mid-fourteenth century), which also appear at the head of the translated sonnet: “Che vuol veder quantum que pò Natura” (Marot, “Six Sonnetz”  341; Petrarch, 1013). Similarly, in Songe 13 Du Bellay writes of a ship sinking in a tempest, “La grand’ richesse à nulle autre seconde” (Les Antiquitez, sonnet 13, 31, v. 31). These are the very words that conclude the second stanza of Marot’s “Chant des Visions de Petrarque” (1533–34), his translation of Petrarch’s “Canzone delle visioni”: “La grand’richesse à nulle autre seconde” (Marot, “Chant des visions” 339, v. 24). This is also an exact rendition of Petrarch’s original: “l’alte ricchezze a nul’altre seconde” (Petrarch, 1227). I will comment on each of these references, discussing their relationship as well as their implications for understanding poetic imitation.

The “Epitaphe de Clement Marot” does not appear in the second edition of the Olive (1550), which adds more sonnets to the sequence and omits the two “autres œuvres poëtiques” that follow it, the Antérotique and the thirteen odes that comprise Les Vers lyriques. In the first edition, the “Epitaphe” directly follows the thirteenth ode, “De l’immortalité des poëtes.” In this poem Du Bellay develops the commonplace of the ephemerally thankless task of poetry earning poets a bulwark against the ravages of time. It is easy to read the “Epitaphe” as a continuation of this ode: Du Bellay begins by following Marot’s own likening of himself to Vergil with the pun of Maro/Marot (Du Bellay 2009b, l. 2). He then affirms that Marot’s verse, having “domté la mort,” is the material from which the Muses have built his true, heavenly “Sepulture”; he finishes with Marot’s poetic motto, “la mort n’y mord” (Les Antiquitez, vv. 8–10). Through this poem, no less than the kind of tombeau that he will write to Rome in the Antiquitez, Du Bellay affirms that Marot’s work will continue circulating. In repeating Marot’s self-identification with Vergil and the motto, Du Bellay is engaging in imitation. Though exactly what Du Bellay means by imitation seems to shift throughout the Deffence, in one passage he describes the procedure of borrowing phrases from a predecessor and repurposing them: “Et certes, comme ce n’est point chose vicieuse, mais grandement louable emprunter d’une Langue etrangere les Sentences, et les motz, et les approprier à la sienne” (Les Antiquitez 94). Because in both the Deffence and his poetry Du Bellay does exactly this, I have argued, it is sound to accept it as his definition of imitation (Melehy, “Du Bellay and the Space of Early Modern Culture” 510–11; Melehy, The Poetics of Literary Transfer 26–28). In the case of the “Epitaphe,” he borrows phrases from Marot in order to declare him immortal, a durable model for poets to borrow from. It is also an illustrative declaration of the immortality of a certain poet, following the ode to poetic immortality.

Even if the “Epitaphe” is an appendage to the thirteenth ode and Les Vers lyriques to which they belong, it is also distinct from them: each part of the book – L’Olive, L’Antérotique, and Les Vers lyriques – ends with the word “Fin,” each time effectively introducing the next part. Les Vers lyriques definitively ends, leaving the “Epitaphe” as an appendage to the whole book, an homage to Marot that touches on the practice of imitation of which the book is an illustration. It echoes the “Epitaphe de ma Dame Laure,” attributed to François Ier, that concludes the Six sonnetz de Petrarque, a sequence of sonnets that is the prototype of the extended sequence of L’Olive. By choosing these six sonnets, Marot identifies Petrarch with the form: in this reception of Petrarch in French, Marot filters out the other forms that fill the pages of the Canzoniere. He effectively invents the genre of the French Petrarchan sonnet sequence that Du Bellay then fulfills. The form of the dizain that Du Bellay chooses for the “Epitaphe” repeats Marot’s most frequently used form in L’Adolescence clémentine. So one should see the “Epitaphe” as belonging to the entire book, also as a coda to each of them, not least L’Olive: if, as Du Bellay’s narrating poet declares in the opening sonnet of L’Olive, he hopes to make Olive the equal of the “Laurier immortel,” also crowning himself with the laurel of poetic immortality, he will do so on the model of Marot. Du Bellay further tacitly acknowledges Marot by following his rhyme scheme, abba abba ccd eed, in twelve sonnets from 1549 and thirty-six additional ones from 1550. The fact that the second edition of L’Olive replaces the “Epitaphe” and the other works with sixty-five additional sonnets amounts to Du Bellay’s declaration that he has now achieved at least equal footing with Marot and no longer needs to name him.

Writing over death

Du Bellay continues not naming Marot in the Antiquitez and the Songe, borrowing his words with slight alteration in order to redirect them in textbook cases of imitation. In sonnet 5 of the Antiquitez, he expands on Marot’s opening line in order to improve on the perfection of Petrarch’s Laura with the still greater perfection of Rome. Little else of Marot’s rendition of Petrarch’s Sonnet 248 is left, but Du Bellay’s sonnet reprises the commonplace of poetic immortality from the “Epitaphe”: as he does throughout the Antiquitez, he replaces Laura with Rome as the beloved who has died,[3] and through his reworking of the “Epitaphe,” he also replaces Marot with Rome. Just as Rome remains through its “escripts,” Marot and Petrarch remain through the borrowed words. Marot also remains through rhyme and meter: sonnet 5 is one of nineteen in the thirty-two sonnets in the Antiquitez in which Du Bellay uses the Marotian scheme; the lines are decasyllables, Marot’s most frequent meter, hence belonging to the precursor that will be surpassed, which Du Bellay alternates in the Antiquitez and the Songe with the alexandrines that he presents as the future of French verse.

To demonstrate the modification at the heart of Du Bellay’s practice of imitation in this poem, I quote all three sonnets in full.


Chi vuol veder quantunque pò Natura

e ’l Ciel tra noi, venga a mirar costei

ch’è sola un sol, non pur a li occhi mei

ma al mondo cieco che vertù non cura:


et venga tosto, perché Morte fura                                           5

prima i migliori et lascia star i rei:

questa, aspettata al regno delli dèi

cosa bella mortal passa et non dura.


Vedrà, s’arriva a tempo, ogni vertute,

ogni bellezza, ogni real costume                                       10

giunti in un corpo con mirabil’ tempre;


allor dirà che mie rime son mute,

l’ingegno offeso dal soverchio lume;

ma se più tarda, avrà da pianger sempre. (Petrarch 1013)



Qui vouldra veoir tout ce que peult Nature,
Contempler vienne une qui en tous lieux
Est ung Soleil, ung Soleil à mes yeulx,
Voire aux ruraulx qui de Vertu n’ont cure.

Et vienne tost, car Mort prent (tant est dure)                          5
Premier les bons, laissant les vicieux;
Puis ceste cy s’en va du reng des Dieux:
Chose mortelle et belle bien peu dure.

S’il vient à temps, verra toute beauté,
Toute vertu et meurs de royaulté                                       10
Joinctz en un corps par merveilleux secret:

Alors dira que muette est ma rithme,
Et que clarté trop grande me supprime;
Mais si trop tarde, aura tousjours regret. (Marot 341–42)

Du Bellay:

Qui voudra voir tout ce qu’ont peu nature,

L’art, et le ciel (Rome) te vienne voir:

J’entens s’il peult ta grandeur concevoir

Par ce qui n’est que ta morte peinture.


Rome n’est plus, et si l’architecture                                       5

Quelque umbre de Rome fait revoir,

C’est comme un corps par magique sçavoir

Tiré de nuict hors de sa sepulture


Le corps de Rome en cendre est dévallé

Et son esprit rejoindre est allé                                           10

Au grand esprit de ceste masse ronde.


Mais ses escripts, qui son loz le plus beau

Malgré le temps arrachent du tumbeau,

Font son idole errer parmy le monde. (Les Antiquitez, sonnet 5, 8)


Du Bellay’s first alteration is to put the opening line in the past tense. For Marot and Petrarch, nature continues to produce marvels, its capacity gauged by the perfect work it created in Laura, a sun that lights everything. For Petrarch, though, it is not only nature, but also heaven that has made Laura. Marot omits heaven, “Ciel,” from Petrarch’s opening quatrain, rendering Laura a solely natural creation and at the same time attributing extraordinary creative power to nature. In the second line Marot also replaces Petrarch’s “sola,” “alone” or “only,” with a second “Soleil,” which nonetheless preserves the phonetics of both words and emphasizes Laura’s brightness. But curiously, her light will not cure the blind world, the unvirtuous “mondo cieco,” but rather the unvirtuous “ruraulx,” those far from the court where Marot is living in the patronage of the king. Du Bellay not only changes the work of nature to something that took place in the past, but he also restores Petrarch’s “Ciel,” and furthermore adds art (or craft) to the mix of what made Rome. While Laura’s perfection was both natural and divine, Rome was more complete because it also represented the best of human effort. For Marot and Petrarch, Laura is a creature who shines light on everything, allowing everyone to see her and the world, bringing her clarity and virtue to the entire world. For Du Bellay, Rome is also something to be seen, but it is merely an image, a painting of its long-lost grandeur. Laura is now dead: her body is still on view, but only for a short time before the force of time destroys it. In contrast, Du Bellay’s Roman remains have become something unnatural, something undivine, “par magique sçavoir / Tiré de nuict hors de sa sepulture,” not allowed to rest as Laura’s body is.

But the major difference between the two poems, where they firmly part ways, is in what each declares in its last lines as the efficacy of poetry. Where Petrarch’s and Marot’s verse can say nothing – “mie rime son mute,” “muette est ma rithme” – and the poet is overcome by the glow – “l’ingegno offeso dal soverchio lume,” “clarté trop grande me supprime” – the only part of Rome that will remain effective is its poetry. Its “escripts” will make its “idole” – its eidolon or created image, like the painting that its ruins are – move through the world among the living, continuing to spread its glory. Certainly, for both Petrarch and Marot, poetry has a value in conveying an image of Laura – but it is only an image of her perfection, and it can only point to her perfection through its own imperfection. But for Du Bellay, the poetry that’s left of Rome, emanating from its ruins and part of them, can convey its own perfection. The perfection can proliferate when the poet repurposes the poetry of Rome, as Du Bellay is doing here with both the image of Rome he has created in his sonnet sequence and the poetry of Petrarch through Marot’s translation. Moreover, this continuing motion of Roman verse repeats the function that Du Bellay attributes to Marot’s verse in the last three lines of the “Epitaphe”:

Et de ses Vers, qui ont domté la Mort,
Les Seurs luy ont Sepulture batie
Jusques au ciel. ainsi, la mort n’y mord.

If Du Bellay is recycling the poetry of Rome for the rebirth of French poetry, he is doing the same with Marot’s poetry, which moves outside his grave into the immortality of the heavens, and becomes available for the new poet. In treating Marot’s verse as a tombeau, similar to the poetic ruins of Rome, he may both treat his precursor as a monument and surpass him with new verse.

Dreams of reform

Du Bellay also does this in the Songe, long recognized as an imitation of Petrarch’s Canzone 323, but owing more to Marot than criticism has acknowledged. An additional dimension of Du Bellay’s repurposing of Marot’s version of this poem is, as I have argued, that it likely offers a commentary on the religious strife that was mounting in the 1550s.[4] As a partisan of the Reform, Marot often expresses his views in his poetry, despite the price they cost him. The first edition of La Suite de l’adolescence clementine indicates that the “Chant des visions de Petrarque” is “translaté de Italien en Françoys par le commendement du Roy” (“Chant des visions” 338) a phrase suggesting Marot’s wish to please the Catholic sensiblities of François Ier (1494–1547) in the latter’s admiration of the Italian poet. But besides the fact that in the 1532 French royal court there simply would not have been a neat opposition between such a thematic and what later passed for a Protestant one, beginning around that time, a series of Italian commentaries on Petrarch as a precursor to the Reform appeared in print. As William Kennedy explains,

Fausto da Longiano in 1532, Ludovico Castelvetro in the 1540s, both at Modena, and Antonio Brucioli at Ferrarra in 1548, represent Petrarch as proto-Protestant, disdainful of scholastic clichés, teeming with references to Saint Augustine and the Scriptures, and adept in satirizing the Avignon papacy. (Kennedy 3)

In tandem with these commentaries, later in the sixteenth century, through repurposing by Dutch poet Jan van der Noot and translations by Edmund Spenser, Canzone 323, alongside Du Bellay’s Songe, becomes a Protestant allegory of the vanity of earthly pleasures. It is entirely plausible that Marot saw it this way when he undertook the translation. As for the possibility of Du Bellay’s awareness of and interest in this dimension of Canzone 323, both Kennedy and Gilbert Gadoffre cite historical evidence of the affinities between certain aspects of the Reform and the Gallicanism to which Cardinal Jean du Bellay (1492–1560), his younger cousin Joachim’s employer and patron, is known to have subscribed (Kennedy 91; Godoffre, 151–82).

In order to explore Du Bellay’s repurposing of Marot, its relationship to sixteenth-century currents of the Reform, and its implications for a critical understanding of imitation, I offer a gloss on Marot’s translation of the second stanza of Petrarch’s Canzone 323 and sonnet 13 of Du Bellay’s Songe. I begin with full quotations, in each poem italicizing the key line, starting with Petrarch:

Indi per alto mar vidi una nave,
con le sarte di seta, et d’òr la vela,
tutta d’avorio et d’ebeno contesta;
e ’l mar tranquillo, et l’aura era soave,
e ’l ciel qual è se nulla nube il vela,                                       5
ella carca di ricca merce honesta:
poi repente tempesta
orïental turbò sì l’aere et l’onde,
che la nave percosse ad uno scoglio.
O che grave cordoglio!                                                           10
Breve ora oppresse, et poco spazio asconde,
l’alte ricchezze a nul’altre seconde. (Petrarch 1242, vv. 13–24)


Puis en Mer haulte ung Navire advisoie,
Qui tout d’Hebene, & blanc Yvoire estoit,
A Voyles d’or, & à Cordes de Soye:
Doulx fut le Vent, la Mer paisible, & coye,
Le Ciel par tout cler se manifestoit.                                       5
La belle Nef pour sa charge portoit
Riches Tresors : mais tempeste subite
En troublant L’air, ceste Mer tant irrite,
Que la Nef hurte ung Roc caché soubz l’onde.
Ô grand fortune, ô crevecueur trop grief,                               10
De veoir perir en ung moment si brief
La grand richesse à nulle aultre seconde. (“Chant des visions” 339, vv. 13–24)

Du Bellay:

Plus riche assez que ne se monstroit celle
Qui apparut au triste Florentin,
Jettant ma veüe au rivage Latin
Je vy de loing surgir une Nasselle:

Mais tout soudain la tempeste cruelle,                                   5
Portant envie à si riche butin,
Vint assaillir d’un Aquilon mutin
La belle Nef des autres la plus belle.

Finablement l’orage impetueux
Fit abysmer d’un gouphre tortueux                                   10
La grand’ richesse à nulle autre seconde.

Je vy sous l’eau perdre le beau thresor,
La belle Nef, & les Nochers encor,
Puis vy la Nef se ressourdre sur l’onde. (Le Songe, sonnet 13, 31)

One notable change that Marot makes is that the rock the ship strikes is submerged: in Petrarch it’s merely “uno scoglio” (v. 9), whereas Marot writes of “ung Roc caché soubz l’onde” (v. 9). If the rock represents the ancient foundation of the Church,[5] then Marot converts it to an obstacle hidden by the current Church and its high clergy. Du Bellay’s imitation suggests a similar understanding: his ship, rather than meeting with destruction, is stripped of wealth and its corollary, corruption. Du Bellay identifies the “Nasselle” as from Petrarch, the “triste Florentin” (v. 2). But it is even more beautiful as the Ship of Rome itself: both ancient Rome, since the poet stands along the Tiber, and that of the Church.

The allegory in this sonnet suggests that the Church is approaching destruction amid the religious troubles of the sixteenth century, “la tempeste cruelle” (v. 5). The tempeste is also a peste: for Petrarch it is the plague that has killed Laura, for Du Bellay the wars destroying the Church.[6] Unlike most sonnets of the Songe, this one does not entail cataclysmic annihilation: at the last minute the ship resurfaces. The poem’s ending suggests, rather than a divided Church, a single one that has faced its own violence before the Reform – faced its own peste – accounted for it, come to peace with it in reforming itself. The poet of the Songe might well be showing sympathy for the Reform, or at least objecting to the violence against its adherents. But he also criticizes the reform of the latter and along with it Marot: the final line from Marot (and Petrarch) is only the last line of Du Bellay’s first tercet; the ship resurfaces in the second tercet. Du Bellay is suggesting that, if Marot’s poem is also to be read as an allegory of the vagaries of the Church and a wish for reform, the Huguenots (among them Marot) have not cleansed their reformed church of corruption. And in Du Bellay’s rendition the storm alone sinks the ship without the help of a rock: he has eliminated Marot’s implicit attack on the foundation of the Church, not placing it at strict odds with the current state of the Church – perhaps not seeing this foundation as such a solid basis.

Du Bellay expresses a wish for the Church to undergo some of the reforms with which Marot allied himself, but ultimately sees a reformed Catholic Church, not a new institution arising from the depths. There can be little question of his sympathies for those aspects of the Reform that overlap with the Gallicanist movement in which he and his family are participating. In Antiquitez 18 Du Bellay reads the changes of the Church in time in almost exactly this way – although the stony foundation of the Church is far from firm, now constituting some of the ruins of Rome. He opens the sonnet as follows:

Ces grands monceaux pierreux, ces vieux murs que tu vois,
Furent premierement le cloz d’un lieu champestre:
Et ces braves palais dont le temps s’est fait maistre,
Cassines de pasteur ont esté quelquefois. (vv. 1–4)

And he concludes it as follows:

Mais le Ciel s’opposant à tel acroissement,
Mist ce pouvoir es mains du successeur de Pierre,
Qui sous le nom de pasteur, fatal à cette terre,
Monstre que tout retourne à son commencement. (vv. 11–14)

Du Bellay allegorizes the history of the Church as the history of Rome, which returns to its humble and pastoral beginnings, with a “Pierre” who has arisen from “[c]es grands monceaux pierreux,” the piles of rubble that mark the city for the sixteenth-century visitor.

From destruction to creation

Even if Du Bellay is a “fils ingrat” of Marot, he is also his imitator, entirely in the sense that the Deffence lays out. At the end of the Deffence Du Bellay famously declares: “Là donq’, Françoys, marchez courageusement vers cete superbe Cité Romaine: et des serves Depouilles d’elle (comme vous avez fait plus d’une fois) ornez voz Temples, et Autelz” (La Deffense 179). If imitation is tantamount to grave robbery, then as soon as Du Bellay recognizes Marot by writing an epitaph for him, a tombeau, the younger poet has made his elder available for pillaging, stealing without acknowledgement, using the gathered parts to build a new poetry that surpasses the old. So Du Bellay is only following through on the gesture of honoring Marot with the “Epitaphe” and, in the same month, publishing the Deffence, a text that belittles Marot and presents him as an example of what a poet should not do. The dismantling of Marot’s version of Petrarch comes later, when Du Bellay creates the Antiquitez and the Songe, illustrative announcements of the triumph of the new poetry over antiquity. In the Deffence, Du Bellay also uses the word antiquité to refer to older French poetry;[7] Marot is thus the representative of this antiquity. And Marot’s Petrarch is the precise source of imitation: for Du Bellay and the Pléiade, Petrarch is a conduit to antiquity;[8] as the first to channel him, Marot must be knocked from his place. Imitation is a vital component of creating the new on the basis of the old, but it is consequently a destruction of the old. Moreover, since Du Bellay engages the Reformist Marot and the Petrarch who is enlisted to the Reform, he also brings to his vision of contemporary papal Rome and the Holy Roman Empire a dissident current that contends with their domination.[9] If imitation eventually leads to the creation of new models and the surpassing of the old, Du Bellay could not more blatantly follow the cycle of imitation than by fast-tracking Marot through it, from tombeau to disfigured body, parts of which will enrich the new creations and the French language.


Works Cited

Du Bellay, Joachim. Les Antiquitez de Rome, in Œuvres poétiques, vol. 2, edited by Daniel Aris and Françoise Joukovsky, Classiques Garnier, 1993, 2009, pp. 1–21.

–––––. La Deffence et illustration de la langue françoyse, edited by Jean-Charles Monferran, Droz, 2001, 2007.

–––––. “Epitaphe de Clément Marot,” in Œuvres poëtiques, vol. 1, edited by Daniel Aris and Françoise Joukovsky, Classiques Garnier, 1991, 2009, p. 116.

–––––. Le Songe, in Œuvres poétiques, vol. 2, edited by Daniel Aris and Françoise Joukovsky, Classiques Garnier, 1993, 2009, pp. 23–32.

Gadoffre, Gilbert. Du Bellay et le sacré. Gallimard, 1978.

Hui, Andrew. The Poetics of Ruins in Renaissance Literature. Fordham UP, 2016.

Kennedy, William J. Authorizing Petrarch. Cornell UP, 1994.

Marot, Clément. “Le Chant des visions de Petrarque,” in Œuvres complètes, vol. 1, edited by François Rigolot, Flammarion, 2007, pp. 338–40.

–––––. “Six sonnets de Petrarque sur la mort de sa dame Laura,” in Œuvres complètes, vol. 2, edited by François Rigolot, Flammarion, 2009, pp. 340–43.

Mathieu-Castellani, Gisèle. “Les enfants de Marot.”Clément Marot,“Prince des poëtes françois” 1496–1996 (Actes du colloque en Quercy, 1996), edited by Gérard Defaux and Michel Simonin. Champion, 1997, pp. 713–34.

Melehy, Hassan. “Du Bellay and La Deffence et illustration de la langue françoyse.” A History of Modern French Literature: From the Sixteenth Century to the Twentieth Century, edited by Christopher Prendergast. Princeton UP, 2017, pp. 137–54.

–––––. “Du Bellay and the Space of Early Modern Culture.” Neophilologus, vol. 84, no. 4, 2000, pp. 501–15.

–––––. “‘Grand’ richesse’: Du Bellay and Marot, a Petrarchan Navigation.” Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance, vol. 68, no. 3, 2006, pp. 483–97.

­­–––––. The Poetics of Literary Transfer in Early Modern France and England. Routledge. 2010; Ashgate, 2016.

Petrarca, Francesco (Petrarch). Canzoniere, edited by Marco Santagata, Moldadori, 2015.

Rebhorn, Wayne A. “Du Bellay’s Imperial Mistress: Les Antiquitez de Rome as Petrarchist Sonnet Squence.” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 33, no. 4, 1980, pp. 609–22.



[1] In the Deffence, there are no fewer than fourteen mentions of or allusions to Marot, none complimentary; they rather present one gesture or another by Marot as an example of what not to do. Du Bellay, La Deffence (2007). I have also consulted the 2001 edition, which includes an index.

[2] A much-revised version of this essay became chapter 1 of my 2010 book: Melehy, The Poetics of Literary Transfer in Early Modern France and England, 17–29. My most recent formulation of this reading is Melehy, “Du Bellay and La Deffence.”

[3] Andrew Hui has explored the close ties between Petrarch’s reconstruction of Laura and his reconstruction of ancient Rome through piecing together vestigia: 94–111. Du Bellay appears to have understood Petrarch this way, replacing a fragmentary Laura with a fragmentary Rome in the Antiquitez and the Songe. Cf. Rebhorn; Melehy, The Poetics of Literary Transfer 38–40.

[4] I have adapted this section of the essay from my “Grand’ richesse,” 488–95.

[5] Cf. Matthew 16:18: “And I say also unto the, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church” (KJV).

[6] Santagata notes, “La tempesta è metafora della peste del 1348,” which of course killed Laura. Although Marot’s and Du Bellay’s allegorical reworkings of Petrarch shift the sense of this metaphor, it remains important to see in the French tempeste the word peste, itself now metaphorized.

[7] Du Bellay cites the work of Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meung as “venerable pour son antiquité” (Du Bellay, La Deffence et illustration 121).

[8] Du Bellay cites Petrarch as the only modern worthy of the ancients: Du Bellay, La Deffence et illustration 88.

[9] See Gadoffre 183–208, especially: “Voilà qui met dans une situation inconfortable les historiens de la littérature trop fidèles à l’héritage du xixe siècle, et toujours prêts à faire des crypto-protestants de ceux qui narguent Rome, ou des crypto-athées de ceux qu’on ne peut situer à Rome ni à Genève. L’œuvre de Du Bellay reste inclassable dans la mesure où l’on s’obstine à projeter sur le passé une bipolarité Rome-Genève qui n’existait pas dans la France de Henri II, et à négliger une composante essentielle de l’histoire religieuse française dont les historiens de la littérature semblent avoir oublié l’existence: le gallicanisme. C’est en fonction de cet oubli qu’on a convenu tacitement à contourner l’obstacle en limitant l’exégèse aux références humanistes, en mettant la religion entre parenthèses alors que l’œuvre de Du Bellay, riche en connotations religieuses, se prête aussi mal que possible à une telle dichotomie” (194–95).

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