Le Lac (poem)
Le Lac (English : The Lake) is one of the most famous poems of Lamartine, in the Méditations poétiques published in 1820.
Julie Charles, (the wife of the famous physicist Jacques Charles), was a person Lamartine admired. The poet's muse hadn't been able to come to the Lac du Bourget (locale of many previous encounters) in August 1817, where they had planned to meet again; mortally ill with tuberculosis, she died soon thereafter. Lamartine returned to the lake alone to see again the places they had visited together. Surprised to find the natural setting unchanged and indifferent, he wished it could preserve some memory of their past happiness. The poet sighs at the memory of a star-lit night on the lake with his muse, and laments the onrush of time that relentlessly carries one away from such happy moments. Consisting of sixteen quatrains, it met with great acclaim and propelled its author to the front ranks of romantic poets.
The poem is often compared to the Tristesse d'Olympio of Victor Hugo and to the Souvenir of Alfred de Musset. It was set to music by Niedermeyer and more recently by British composer David Matthews, a setting premiered by the Orchestra of the Swan and soprano April Fredrick under the baton of Kenneth Woods in 2019.
Ainsi, toujours poussés vers de nouveaux rivages,
So driven onward to new shores forever,
- Antoine Léonard Thomas, author of the hemistich " Pause in your trek O Time! ", copied from the poem "Ode sur le temps" by Lamartine in Le Lac.
- From Poems in translation.