Document Type


Date of Award



Scève, Maurice, Délie, Criticism and interpretation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Aldo S. Bernardo

Second Advisor

Gerald Gillespie

Third Advisor

Alexander Fischler




The poetry of Maurice Scève is now beginning to receive both the interest and the serious criticism it deserves. His Délie in particular is finally being extricated from the dubious critical issues imposed by three and a half centuries of near oblivion and the verdict of obscurity pronounced against it from the start. The general trend in Scève criticism has been away from philosophical or mystic speculations in favor of a new appreciation of the intensely personal lyrical quality and contemplative richness of the poetry of Délie....[Such] criticism has contributed, and will continue to contribute, valuable insights into this important dimension of his work. However, it is incapable of dealing with an equally important dimension—his unabashed intellectuality, which finds expression not only in the dazzling brilliance of some of his “metaphysical” conceits, but in those “prosaic” or rationalized passages which have disturbed his critics deeply, and in concepts of poetic structures grounded in philosophical and mathematical, i.e., abstract and universal, principles. These concepts, however, complete the expression of an exploration of a personal experience as a path to knowledge which is only entered upon in the individual dizain, and therefore cannot be easily dismissed as extrinsic to his poetic inspiration.

It is therefore the purpose of this study to consider one of the more persistently obscured facets of the poetics of Délie, the structure, or better, the structural dynamics, in an attempt not only to discover the processes by which structural principles sustain the development of the sequence, but the probable sources of these principles in the philosophical speculations of Scève’s predecessors and contemporaries.