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Maurice Scève

Maurice Scève (c. 1500-1564), French poet, was born at Lyons, where his father practised law.

Besides following his father's profession he was a painter, architect, musician and poet. He was the centre of the Lyonnese côterie that elaborated the theory of spiritual love, derived partly from Plato and partly from Petrarch, which was enunciated in Antoine Héroet's Parfaicte Amye.

Scève's chief works are Délie, objet de plus haulte vertu (1544); two eclogues, Anon (1536) and La Saulsaye (1547); and La Microcosme (1562), an encyclopaedic poem beginning with the fall of man. Délie consists of 450 dizaines and about 50 other poems in praise of his mistress. These poems, later little read, were even in Scève's own day so obscure that his enthusiastic admirer Etienne Dolet confesses he could not understand them.

Scève was a musician as well as a poet, and cared very much for the musical value of the words he used, in this and in his erudition he forms a link between the school of Marot and the Pléiade[?]. Délie (an anagram for l'idée) set the fashion of a series of poems addressed to a mistress real or imaginary, followed by Ronsard in Cassandre and by Du Bellay in Olive.

The Lyonnese school of which Scève was the leader included his friend Claude de Taillemont[?] and many women writers of verse, Jeanne Gaillarde[?]--placed by Marot on an equality with Christine de Pisan, Pernette du Guillet[?], Clémence de Bourges[?] and the poet's sisters, Claudine[?] and Sibyile Scéve[?]. Scève died in 1564. See also Louise Labe.

See E Bourciez, La Littérature polie at les nuvurs de cour sous Henri II (Paris, 1886); Pernetti, Recherches pour servir de l'histoire de Lyon (2 vols., Lyons, 1757), and F Brunetibre, "Un Précurseur de la Pléiade, Maurice Scève," in his Etudes critiques, vol. vi. (1899).

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.



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