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Alphonse Marie Lois de Lamartine

(1790-1869 / France)

Biography of Alphonse Marie Lois de Lamartine

Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de Lamartine (21 October 1790 - 28 February 1869) was a French writer, poet and politician.

Born in Mâcon, Burgundy into French provincial nobility, he spent his youth at the family property at Milly-Lamartine.

He is famous for his partly autobiographical poem, "Le Lac" ("The Lake"), which describes in retrospect the fervent love shared by a couple from the point of view of the bereaved man. Lamartine was masterly in his use of French poetic forms. He was one of very few French literary figures to combine his writing with a political career.[citation needed] Raised a devout Catholic, Lamartine became a pantheist, writing Jocelyn and La Chute d'un ange. He wrote Histoire des Girondins in 1847 in praise of the Girondists.

He worked for the French embassy in Italy from 1825 to 1828. In 1829, he was elected a member of the Académie française. He was elected a 'député' in 1833, and was briefly in charge of government during the turbulence of 1848. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 24 February 1848 to 11 May 1848. Due to his great age, Jacques-Charles Dupont de l'Eure, Chairman of the Provisional Government, effectively delegated much of his duties to Lamartine. He was then a member of the Executive Commission, the political body which served as France's joint Head of State.

Lamartine was instrumental in the founding of the Second Republic of France, having met with Republican Deputies and journalists in the hotel de ville to agree on the make-up of its provisional government. Lamartine himself was chosen to formally declare the Republic in traditional form from the balcony of the hotel de ville.

During his term as a politician in the Second Republic, he led efforts that eventually led to the abolition of slavery and the death penalty, as well as the enshrinement of the right to work and the short-lived national workshop programs. A political idealist who supported democracy and pacifism, his moderate stance on most issues caused his followers to desert him. He was an unsuccessful candidate to the presidential election of 10 December 1848, receiving less than 19,000 votes. He subsequently retired from politics and dedicated himself to literature.

He ended his life in poverty, publishing monthly installments of the Cours familier de littérature to support himself. He died in Paris.

He is considered to be the first French romantic poet (though Charles-Julien Lioult de Chênedollé was working on similar innovations at the same time), and was acknowledged by Paul Verlaine and the Symbolists as an important influence.

Alphonse Marie Lois de Lamartine's Works:

Saül (1818)
Méditations poétiques (1820)
Nouvelles Méditations (1823)
Harmonies poétiques et religieuses (1830)
Sur la politique rationnelle (1831)
Voyage en Orient (1835)
Jocelyn (1836)
La chute d'un ange (1838)
Recueillements poétiques (1839)
Histoire des Girondins (1847)
Raphaël (1849)
Confidences (1849)
Geneviève, histoire d'une servante (1851)
Graziella (1852)
Les visions (1853)
Histoire de la Turquie (1854)
Cours familier de littérature (1856)

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L'isolement

Souvent sur la montagne, à l'ombre du vieux chêne,
Au coucher du soleil, tristement je m'assieds;
Je promène au hasard mes regards sur la plaine,
Dont le tableau changeant se déroule à mes pieds.


Ici gronde le fleuve aux vagues écumantes,
Il serpente, et s'enfonce en un lointain obscur;
Là le lac immobile étend ses eaux dormantes

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