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Melin de Saint-Gelais

Melin de Saint-Gelais (November 3, 1487 - 1558), French poet, was born at Angoulême on the 3rd of November 1487. He was the natural son of Octavien de St Gelais (1466-1502), afterwards bishop of Angouléme, himself a poet who had translated the Aeneid into French.

Melin, who had studied at Bologna and Padua, had the reputation of being doctor, astrologer and musician as well as poet. He returned to France in 1515, and soon gained favour at the court of Francis I by his skill in light verse. He was made almoner to the Dauphin, abbot of Reclus in the diocese of Troyes and librarian to the king at Fontainebleau.

He enjoyed immense popularity until the appearance of Du Bellay's Defense et illustration... in 1549, where St Gelais was not excepted from the scorn poured on contemporary poets. He attempted to ridicule the innovators by reading aloud the Odes of Ronsard with burlesque emphasis before Henry II, when the king's sister, Marguerite de Valois, seized the book and read them herself.

Ronsard accepted Saint-Gelais's apology for this incident, but Du Bellay satirized the offender in the Poète courtisan. In 1554 he collaborated, perhaps with Francois Habert (1520-1574?), in a translation of the Sophornsbe of Trissino which was represented (1554) before Catherine de Medici at Blois. Saint-Gelais was the champion of the style marotique and the earliest of French sonneteers. He died in 1538. His Œuvres were edited in 1873 (3 vols., Bibl. elzévirienne) by Prosper Blanchemain.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.