RONSARD, Pierre de (1524-1585). Ode de la Paix. Paris: [Michel de Vascosan for] Guillaume Cavellat, 1550.
8o (169 x 110 mm). A-C4. 12 leaves. Roman and Greek types. Publisher's woodcut device on title (Renouard 124) dated 1541, woodcut headpiece. (Minor creasing to upper edges, one or two trifling marginal tears.) Stitched into vellum wrapper cut out of a 14th-century missal, sewing holes from earlier binding (crack along backstrip, few small marginal tears). Provenance: M. Tisserand(?) (1572 inscription on title: "Ex libris ds textoris 21 Octo. 1572 Witeb", 2 marginal corrections, a few underlinings and strophe divisional marks in same hand); one later marginal note; "W R" (18th-century armorial inkstamp); 19th-century shelfmarks on recto and verso of front wrapper.
EXTREMELY RARE FIRST EDITION AND ONLY SEPARATE EDITION of Ronsard's fourth published work. It was produced on the press of Michel de Vascosan, who had printed Ronsard's first two plaquettes in 1549 and his first collection, Les quatre premiers livres des Odes, earlier the same year. Jean-Paul Barbier postulates a printing date of April or May, immediately following completion of the Odes. The 500-verse pindaric ode -- a poetic form introduced into French poetry under that name by Ronsard, and modelled after Pindar and Horace -- celebrates the peace signed with England by Henri II and the Duc de Montmorency on 24 March 1550. This concluded a brief new outbreak of war occasioned by the French defence of their allies the Scots, who had rebelled against the English regent's attempt to arrange a marriage between the 10-year old Edward VI and 8-year old Mary Stuart, previously engaged by her mother Marie de Lorraine to the French dauphin. Ronsard's poem is accompanied by short commendatory verses in Greek by Jacques Goupil, physician, and Jean-Antoine de Baf, and two "Sonnets sur la Paix" by Charles de Sainte-Marthe and Pierre des Mireurs. It was reprinted in 1552 in the Cinquime livre des odes, appended to the first edition of Les Amours.
Only 7 or 8 copies of the Ode de la Paix are recorded, and it is not clear whether the present copy is one of them. Of these known copies, one (the Blanchemain copy) is at Harvard, 3 are in French institutions, and 2 are in the collection of J.-P. Barbier. We have been unable to identify the present location of the Hector de Backer copy (in a Gruel binding, sold in 1926), and the Paul Laumonier copy, referred to but undescribed in his 1911 Tableau chronologique. It is possible that the two copies are one and the same; if not, the present copy may be the Laumonier copy.
Jean-Paul Barbier, Ma bibliothque potique, 2e partie, Ronsard (Geneva 1990), nos. 7 & 8; Paul Laumonier, Tableau chronologique des oeuvres de Ronsard (Paris, 1911) p. 5; Seymour de Ricci, Ronsard (Maggs, 1927) no. 5; Picot/Rothschild I, 670; Tchmerzine V, 41.