He was commanded to preach before the king at the convent of Vincennes, when the success of his sermon on the love of God, and of a funeral oration on the poet Ronsard, induced him to take orders.
What is universally admitted is that Chenier was a very great artist, who like Ronsard opened up sources of poetry in France which had long seemed dried up. In England it is easier to feel his attraction than that of some far greater reputations in French poetry, for, rhetorical though he nearly always is, he yet reveals something of that quality which to the Northern mind has always been of the very essence of poetry, that quality which made SainteBeuve say of him that he was the first great poet "personnel et reveur" in France since La Fontaine.
He was a contemporary of Ronsard, and his first essays were published when the innovations of the Pleiade had fully established themselves.
It was probably in 1547 that du Bellay met Ronsard in an inn on the way to Poitiers, an event which may justly be regarded as the starting-point of the French school of Renaissance poetry.
Du Bellay returned with Ronsard to Paris to join the circle of students of the humanities attached to Jean Daurat at the College de Coqueret.
While Ronsard and Antoine de Bail were most influenced by Greek models, du Bellay was more especially a Latinist, and perhaps his preference for a language so nearly connected with his own had some part in determining the more national and familiar note of his poetry.
In 1548 appeared the Art poetique of Thomas Sibilet, who enunciated many of the ideas that Ronsard and his followers had at heart, though with essential differences in the point of view, since he held up as models Clement Marot and his disciples.
Ronsard and his friends dissented violently from Sibilet on this and other points, and they doubtless felt a natural resentment at finding their ideas forestalled and, moreover, inadequately presented.
This book was the expression of the literary principles of the Pleiade as a whole, but although Ronsard was the chosen leader, its redaction was entrusted to du Bellay.
Both du Bellay and Ronsard laid stress on the necessity of prudence in these borrowings, and both repudiated the charge of wishing to latinize their mother tongue.
Du Bellay replied to his various assailants in a preface to the second edition (1550) of his sonnet sequence Olive, with which he also published two polemical poems, the Musagnaeomachie, and an ode addressed to Ronsard, Contre les envieux poetes.
His intimate relations with Ronsard were not renewed; but he formed a close friendship with the scholar Jean de Morel, whose house was the centre of a learned society.
Wyndham, Ronsard and La Pleiade (1906); H.
But the decisive revolution was effected by Ronsard and his comrades of the Pleiade.
Johan Paulinus Liljenstedt (1655-1732), a Finn, was a graceful imitator of Ronsard and Guarini.
It is said that Rabelais met and quarrelled with Joachim du Bellay the poet at Rome, and with Ronsard at Meudon and elsewhere, that this caused a breach between him and the Pleiade, that he satirized its classicizing tendencies in the episode of the Limousin scholar, and that Ronsard after his death avenged himself by a libellous epitaph.
Nothing is heard of the quarrel with Du Bella .y or of any meeting with him, nothing of the meetings and bickerings with Ronsard, till 1697, when Bernier tells the story without any authority.
The supposed allusions to the Pleiade date from a time when Ronsard was a small boy, and are mainly borrowed from an earlier writer still, Geoffroy Tory.
There is indeed no reason to suppose that either Ronsard or Du Bellay was a fervent admirer of Rabelais, for they belonged to a very different literary school; but there is absolutely no evidence of any enmity between them, and Du Bellay actually refers to Rabelais with admiration.
Had a sincere love of letters, himself practised poetry, was the patron of Ronsard and the poets of the Pleiad, and granted privileges to the first academy founded by Antoine de Bail (afterwards the Academie du Palais).