Friday, February 20, 2015

The Poet and the Priory

The Prieré Saint-Cosme. Photo credit: sybarite48
As announced on the website, the Prieuré Saint-Cosme, home of the poet Pierre de Ronsard from 1565 to 1585, has reopened after several months of renovations and archeological work. Located near Tours, Saint-Cosme was founded in the eleventh century to receive pilgims en route to Saint James of Compostella in Spain. Suppressed in 1742, the priory's buildings were either partially dismantled or used for secular purposes. Aerial bombardments during World War II spared only the prior's residence, bits of the chapel, and the monks' refectory. The site came under government protection in 1951 and after renovation, reopened to the public. In the 1980's, over 200 species of roses were planted in nine gardens spread over more than five acres of the grounds, a special tribute to Ronsard and his famous poem to Cassandre:

Mignonne allons voir si la rose,
Qui ce matin avoit desclose
Sa robe de pourpre au Soleil,
A point perdu ceste vestrée
Les plis de sa robe pourprée,
Et sa teint au vostre pareil.

Pierre de Ronsard. Photo credit: Carcharoth
Premier poet of the French Renaissance, Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) joined the court of François I as a page at the age of twelve and spent the rest of his life in service to king and court. He received the tonsure of a cleric in 1543, which permitted him to benefit from prebends bestowed by his royal patrons. As a founding member of the group of poets known as the Pléïade, Ronsard worked to raise the esteem of the French language and its poetry to levels enjoyed by classical poets. His many works, among them the Odes (1550), Amours (1552), Hymnes (1555), and Elégies (1565), solidified the elegance of the vernacular tongue and established him as France's leading poet by midcentury. He was a particular favorite of King Charles IX and his mother Catherine de Médicis, who granted him the benefice of the Prieuré Saint-Cosme in 1565. Ronsard spent much time at Saint-Cosme during the last two decades of his life and died there on December 27, 1585, after penning his Derniers vers. He is buried in the church.

The prior's house, in which Ronsard lived during his sojourns at Saint-Cosme, now houses a museum dedicated to the poet's life and works. The Prieuré Saint-Cosme and its gardens would a lovely and significant stop on any tour of the Loire Valley.

No comments: