The Mountain Ford. Thomas Cole. 1846.



Edgar Allan Poe, 1849


Gaily bedight,

A gallant knight,

In sunshine and in shadow,

Had journeyed long,

Singing a song,

In search of Eldorado


But he grew old—

This knight so bold—

And o’er his heart a shadow

Fell as he found

No spot of ground

That looked like Eldorado.


And, as his strength

Failed him at length,

He met a pilgrim shadow—

“Shadow,” said he,

“Where can it be—

This land of Eldorado?”


“Over the mountains

Of the Moon,

Down the Valley of the Shadow,

Ride, boldly ride,”

The shade replied—

“If you seek for Eldorado!”


A Fine Picture—Some have found this the most mysterious painting by Cole. A lone figure in Renaissance dress rides through Adirondack scenery. Possibly, the painting had great significance for Cole, who was readying himself for his most ambitious project. A few months before he painted The Mountain Ford, Cole described himself as “one who, traveling through a desert, comes to a deep stream… and fears to venture in the rushing waters. But I am about to venture.” This “deep stream” was the zealous (but ultimately unrealized) dream of completing a five-part religious cycle called “The Cross and the World.” It was to contrast the life journeys of a Christian and of a worldly man.

A Little Poetry—”Eldorado” was one of Poe’s last poems. It was published on April 21, 1849, during the time of the California Gold Rush. Interestingly, Poe uses the word ‘shadow’ in each of the stanzas, and they each have a different meaning: absence of sunlight, despair, ghost, and death.

2 thoughts on “Eldorado”

  1. Yet again, Thomas Cole pleases me exceedingly! I like the twisting knotted tree on the right side of the painting.

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