At Fontainebleau

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

At Fontainebleau, I saw a little bed
Fashioned of polished wood, with gold ornate,
Ambition, hope, and sorrow, ay, and hate
Once battled there, above a childish head,
And there in vain, grief wept, and memory plead
   It was so small! but Ah, dear God, how great
   The part it played in one sad woman's fate.
How wide the gloom, that narrow object shed.

The symbol of an over-reaching aim,
   The emblem of a devastated joy,
      It spoke of glory, and a blasted home:
Of fleeting honours, and disordered fame,
   And the lone passing of a fragile boy.

* * *

It was the cradle of the King of Rome.

The Chateau de Fontainebleau is one of the greatest of French royal palaces. It has been in use since at least the 12th Century with many rebuildings and additions. It has magnificent gardens, including ornamental lakes and a house in the grounds where Louis XV's powerful mistress, Madame de Pompadour. It is sited on the edge of the great Fontainebleau Forest, a favourite hunting resort for the French Kings.

The palace contains many treasures, such as the cradle described.