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. 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.
Read Alphonse de Lamartine's i>History of the Girondists, free from Google books. 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 February 24, 1848 to May 11, 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.
During his term as a politician in the Second Republic of France, 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 shortlived 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 December 10, 1848. He subsequently retired from politics and dedicated himself to literature.
He ended his life in poverty, something of a literary hack. 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.