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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


In the Forest of Fontainebleau

By Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813–1892)

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.