European Metaphysical Poetry

By Frank J. Warnke | Go to book overview

Brief Lives

GIUSEPPE ARTALE ( 1628-79). Of the innumerable Italian poets of the seventeenth century who followed the literary fashion established by G. B. Marino, Artale is one of the best as well as one of the most nearly original. His lyrics, whether amorous or devotional, usually show the coldness and triviality which are the besetting sins of marinismo, but his ingenuity occasionally kindles into passion, and his wit is employed more structurally than that of many of his countrymen. His works include, in addition to lyrics, a tragicomedy and a dramma per musica. His life has a certain dramatic interest: noted as one of the great duelists of his age, he traveled widely, distinguished himself in battle against the Turks, and ultimately lived in Germany, where he was known as "der blutgierige Ritter" ("the bloodthirsty knight"). He died in Naples.

JEAN BERTAUT ( 1552-1611). Bertaut was born at Caen in Normandy. Entering the priesthood early in life, he embarked on a career full of public honors -- councilor of the Parliament at Grenoble, secretary to King Henry III, almoner to Marie de Medici, and finally, in 1606, Bishop of Sées. After his elevation to the bishopric he abandoned amorous verse and confined himself to the writing of frigid and solemn occasional pieces. He did not, however, reject the work of his earlier years; in 1606, in fact, he personally saw to the revision of his Recueil de quelques vers amoureux of 1602. It is this volume which gives Bertaut his poetic reputation, as well as his position as a minor Metaphysical poet. Like that of his contemporary Desportes, Bertaut's work is essentially court poetry and essentially trivial; its distinction lies in its author's fondness for pointes -- witty or

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