French poet and dramatist. A fervent Catholic, he was influenced by the Symbolists (see Symbolism) and achieved an effect of mystic allegory in such plays as L'Annonce faite à Marie/Tidings Brought to Mary (1912) and Le Soulier de satin/The Satin Slipper (1929), set in 16th-century Spain. His verse includes Cinq Grandes Odes/Five Great Odes (1910).
He was born in Villeneuve-sur-Fère. He entered the diplomatic service in 1892, and was ambassador to Tokyo, Washington, DC, and Brussels.
His other plays include Tête d'or/Golden Head (1889), Partage de midi/Break of Noon (1906), and L'Otage/The Hostage (1911); his dramas are by no means easily adaptable to ordinary stage requirements. Other poetical works include Corona benignitatis anni Dei (1914) and Poèmes de guerre/War Poems (1922). A synthetic and obscure writer, he adopted a form of verse recalling that of the Psalms. It is at once cosmic and yet personal, the fruit of Claudel's preoccupation with his own spiritual salvation, written without much regard for the contemporary world. His metrical ingenuity is marked and he is skilful in the use of long unrhymed periods.