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This famous poem by Lamartine, dated 1817, in its original form of 16 stanzas, is structured in 3 parts: a first series of 5 stanzas (quatrains made of three 12-foot verses– plus one 6-foot verse) , followed by 4 stanzas of a different type (quatrains of alternating 12-foot and 6-foot verses), and then 7 stanzas of the initial type. This long poem has been reduced here by half: 4 + 2 + 2 = 8 stanzas. It is a meditation on the transience of time, love and life. It has also been set to music by Louis Niedermeyer (1802-1861). Litteral translation (AJ):
1. Thus, always pushed towards new lands, In the eternal night carried without return, Will we ever be able, on the ocean of time, To throw the anchor one single day?
2. O! lake, the year has just finished its cycle, And, besides the dear waters she was due to see again, Look! I come alone to sit on this rock Where you saw her sit!
3. One evening, do you remember? we were boating in silence; One could hear in the distance, on the waters and under the skies, Only the noise of the oarsmen who were hitting in cadence Your harmonious surface.
4. All of a sudden tones unknown to the earth Echoed on the spell-bound banks; The waters listen attentively, and the darling voice Dropped those words:
5. "O! time suspend your flight! and you, auspicious hourds, Suspend your course! Let us relish the swift delights Of our most beautiful days.
6. "Let’s thus love, let’s thus love! The runaway hour Let’s hasten, let’s enjoy! Man has no harbour, time has no banks, It flows, and we go along!"
7. O! lake! mute rocks! grottos! dark forest! You that time saves or can make younger, Keep from that night, keep, beautiful nature, At least the memory!
8. May the wind that moans, the reed that sighs, May the light scents of thy balmy air, All that we hear, see or breathe, All say: "They have loved!"