Other Literary Forms
Tristan L’Hermite was one of the most eclectic writers of the seventeenth century. His first published work, of 1626, was the scenario of a ballet, Vers du ballet de Monsieur Frère du Roi. An impressive ode, La Mer, followed in 1628, and his first collection of poetry, Les Plaintes d’Acante, in 1633. Numerous individual poems and collections of all types—erotic, heroic, religious, burlesque—followed in a fairly steady stream; the most notable of these are Les Amours de Tristan (1638), La Lyre (1641), L’Office de la Sainte Vierge (1646), and Les Vers héroïques (1648). It is principally for this poetic output that he is remembered today, but in addition to that—and to his multifaceted dramatic endeavors—he penned numerous letters (Lettres mêlées, 1642), a treatise on cosmography, Principes de cosmographie (1637), a fine picaresque novel, Le Page disgracié (1643), and a series of debates, Plaidoyers historiques (1643). With the exception of Le Page disgracié, which is receiving increasing critical attention, Tristan’s prose works have fallen into a not-undeserved neglect. Such is not the case with his poetry, which was frequently edited and well-represented in every major anthology of his time. Neglected for two centuries, his poetry returned to the limelight at the time of the Symbolists (Claude Debussy set some of Tristan’s best lines to music) and today, thanks in large part to the efforts of poets such as Amédée Madeleine and Carriat, he is universally recognized as the greatest lyric voice of the age of Louis XIII.