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Mellin de Saint Gelais (1490-1558), chalk drawing by Fran√ßois Clouet (1510-1572), Mus√©e Cond√©, Ch√Ęteau de Chantilly)
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Mellin de Saint-Gelais (or Melin de Saint-Gelays or Sainct-Gelais; c. 1491 ‚Äď October, 1558) was a French poet of the Renaissance and Poet Laureate of Francis I of France.


He was born at Angoulême, most likely the natural son of Jean de Saint-Gelais, marquis de Montlieu, a member of the Angoumois gentry. His forename was the French-Norman malapropism of the British wizard Merlin featured in Arthurian legends. He was close to his uncle Octavien de Saint-Gelais (1466-1502), bishop of Angoulême since 1494, himself a poet who had translated the Aeneid into French.

Mellin, who had studied at Bologna and Padua, had the reputation of being doctor, astrologer and musician as well as poet. He returned to France around 1523, and soon gained favour at the court of the art-loving Valois ruler 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 Blois.

He enjoyed immense popularity until the appearance of Joachim du Bellay's Défense et illustration... in 1549, where Saint-Gelais was not excepted from the scorn poured on contemporary poets. He attempted to ridicule the innovators by reading aloud the Odes of Pierre de 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. He translated the Sofonisba of Gian Giorgio Trissino (1478-1550) which was represented in 1556 before Catherine de' Medici at Blois. Saint-Gelais was the champion of the style marotique (see Clément Marot) and the earliest of French sonneteers. He died in Paris in 1558.


  • Becker, Philipp August: Mellin de Saint-Gelais : eine kritische Studie. - Wien : H√∂lder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1924. - 101 p. - (Sitzungsberichte / Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse ; 200, 4)
  • Dictionnaire des lettres fran√ßaises / publ. sous la dir. du Cardinal Georges Grente .... - Paris : Fayard (6 volumes)
    • Vol. 3: Le XVIe si√®cle. - Ed. revue et mise √† jour / sous la dir. de Michel Simonin. - 2001. - XLII, 1217 p. - ISBN 2-253-05663-4
  • Molinier, Henri Joseph: Essai biographique et litt√©raire sur Octovien de Saint-Gelays, √©v√™que d'Angoul√™me (1468-1502). - Rodez: Carr√®re, 1910. - XXI, 307 p. - (Toulouse, Fac. des lettres, thesis of 1910)
  • Molinier, Henri Joseph: Mellin de Saint-Gelays : √©tudes sur sa vie et sur ses oeuvres. - Rodez : Carr√®re, 1910. - XXXII, 614 p. - (Toulouse, Univ., doctoral thesis, 1910). - (also as a reprint in Geneva publishing house Slatkine, 1968)
  • Saint-Gelais, Mellin de: Oeuvres po√©tiques fran√ßaises / √Čd. √©tablie, pr√©sent√©e et annot. par Donald Stone . - Paris : Soc. des Textes Fran√ßais Moderne (2 volumes)
    • Vol. 1: 1993.- XXIX, 312 p. - (Soci√©t√© des Textes Fran√ßais Modernes ; 198). - ISBN 2-86503-230-2
    • Bol. 2: 1995.- XV, 348 p. - (Soci√©t√© des Textes Fran√ßais Modernes ; 204). - ISBN 2-86503-238-8
  • Stone, Donald: Mellin de Saint-Gelais and literary history. - Lexington, Kentucky : French Forum, 1983. - 127 p. - (French Forum monographs ; 47). - ISBN 0-917058-47-X
  • Wagner, Ernst Winfried: Mellin de Saint-Gelais, E. litteratur- u. sprachgeschichtliche Untersuchg. - Ludwigshafen : printed by A. Lauterborn, 1893. - 149 p. - (Heidelberg, Phil. Fak., doctoral thesis, 9. December 1893)

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Mellin de Saint-Gelais (ca. 1490 - October, 1558) was a French writer of the Renaissance and Poet Laureate of Francis I of France.


  • It's better to act and to regret / Than to regret not to have acted
    • Original: Mieux vaut faire, et se repentir / Que se repentir, et rien faire
    • Source: Quatrains, LXXVIII
  • No bird can ever fly / like a heart can rise so high
    • Original: Il n'est oiseau qui s√Ľt voler / Si haut comme un coeur peut aller
    • Source: Quatrains, LXXXIV
  • A friendship that can be ended / didn't ever start
    • Original: Amiti√© qui se peut finir / Ne fut jamais bien commenc√©e
    • Source: Oeuvres po√©tiques
  • So you must always remember / that time ends the beauty
    • Original: Ainsi vous doit-il souvenir / Que le temps finit la beaut√©
    • Source: Oeuvres po√©tiques


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