Alphonse de Lamartine's most famous poem is Le lac (The Lake) and it has lots of English translations, some very good.
But he also wrote a number of other great poems. L'isolement is one of them, and I couldn't find any English translation
that I was really satisfied with. So here is mine:


               Alphonse de Lamartine

Often, on the mountain, in the old oak’s shadow,
When the sun is going down, I sadly take a seat
And let my gaze meander haphazardly across the plains,
Where a changing panorama unrolls below my feet.

Here, the river roars as it cascades down the slopes;
It snakes across the landscape, and fades from sight in fields afar.
There, the placid lake stretches forth its sleeping waters
And catches in its depths the rising evening star.

On the summits of those mountains, crowned with their dark woods,
The last rays of twilight are slowly growing dim,
And the misty chariot of the queen of shadows
Ascends, already whitening the horizon’s rim.

Flooding from the gothic spire, sweet religious tones
Carry through the air, and the traveler on his way
Pauses in his steps to listen as the rustic bell
Blends its holy concert with the last sounds of the day.

But none of these tableaux moves my indifferent soul:
In the face of all their charm and beauty, it remains unaffected.
I contemplate the earth the way a wandering shadow would:
The sun of the living no longer warms the dead.

From hill to hill in vain I turn my restless eyes,
From north to south, from dawn to sunset, I trace the compass clear around,
Scanning every point of the lands laid out beneath me,
And I conclude “Nowhere can happiness be found.”

Of what avail these valleys, these cottages, these palaces,
Vain objects that for me have lost all their charm and grace,
These rivers, rocks, and forests, beloved solitudes?
A single entity is missing, and all becomes a barren waste!

Whether the sun is starting or finishing its daily arc,
I follow it along its course with an indifferent gaze;
In the midst of storm clouds, or in brilliant azure,
What do I care about the sun? I expect nothing from its days.

If I could follow it on its wide circuit through the sky,
I would see only desolation, empty wastelands of no worth.
I do not wish for anything that it ever shines on,
I do not ask anything of the entire earth.

But maybe somewhere else, beyond the boundaries of its sphere,
Some place where the real sun shines in other skies—
If only I could leave my husk lying on this earth,
Everything I’ve dreamed of might appear before my eyes!

There, I could refresh myself from the springs I long for;
There, the hope and love that I once had would be restored,
And I would find that perfect good that every soul desires,
And which has no name in our terrestrial abode.

If only I could travel on the chariot of Dawn,
Then, vague object of my wishes, straight to you I would fly!
Why do I remain here upon this earth of exile?
Not a single thing in common do we have, the earth and I.

When the leaves fall from the trees and lie scattered in the meadows,
The evening wind will rise and sweep them from the vale;
I have no more substance than the withered leaves—
Oh, carry me away with them, wild autumn gale!

                                                        Translated by Peter Shor, September 2019

And after I translated Isolement, I couldn't resist trying to translate Le lac despite my original intention to only try translating poems which didn't have satisfactory English translations already. Here is my translation.