In the Forest of Fountainbleau.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


THE lights and shadows of long ago
In the grand old Forest of Fontainebleau
Go with me still wherever I go.

I range my pictures around my room,
Won from the forest’s light and gloom;
Not yet shall they sink to an auction’s doom.

They wake me again to the painter’s moods;
They take me back to the wonderful woods,
The wild, dream-haunted solitudes.

They come as Memory waves her wand;
And I think of the days when with busy hand
I painted alone in the forest grand.

I see the old gnarled oak-trees spread
Their boughs and foliage over my head.
About the mossy rocks I tread.

Under the beeches of Fontainebleau,
In the green dim dells of the Bas-Brëau,
Mid ferns and laurel-tufts I go;

Or up on the hills, while the woods beneath
Circle me round like a giant-wreath,
Plunge knee-deep in the purple heath;

Then down to a patch of furzy sand,
Where the white umbrella and easel stand,
And the rocks lie picturesque and grand.

The mellow autumn with fold on fold
Has dressed the woods with a bronzy gold,
And scarlet scarfs of a wealth untold.

The tall gray spotted beeches rise
And seem to touch the unclouded skies,
And round their tops with clamorous cries

The rooks are wheeling to and fro;
And down on the brown leaf-matting below
The lights and the shadows come and go.

O calm, deep days, when labor moved
With wings of joy to the tasks beloved,
And art its own best guerdon proved!

For such it was, when long ago
I sat in my leafy studio
In the dear old Forest of Fontainebleau.

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