This work for orchestra is inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel Les Travailleurs de la Mer (Toilers of the Sea), not in the sense of a programme music or tone poem, but mainly in terms of emotion.
“Gilliatt’s eyes continued fixed upon the vessel in the horizon. Their expression resembled nothing earthly. A strange lustre shone in their calm and tragic depths. There was in them the peace of vanished hopes, the calm but sorrowful acceptance of an end far different from his dreams. By degrees the dusk of heaven began to darken in them, though gazing still upon the point in space. At the same moment the wide waters round the Gild-Holm-‘Ur and the vast gathering twilight closed upon them.”
– from Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo, as translated by W. Moy Thomas.