Anne Charlotte Lynch Botta (1815-1891)
Thank you to Kevin Cawley for his work in putting Anne Lynch Botta's poetry online. See his page for her partial biography and her Poems (1852). See her memoir at the University of Michigan.
"Was born in Burlington, Vt., is the wife of Professor
Vincenzo L. Botta, of Columbia College, and has long been a leader in New York
literary life. She has written numerous sonnets.
P. Putnam's Sons.)." (Crandall)
The planted seed consigned to common earth,
Disdains to moulder with the baser clay;
But rises up to meet the light of day,
Spreads all its leaves, and flowers, and tendrils forth;
And, bathed and ripened in the genial ray,
Pours out its perfume on the wandering gales,
Till in that fragrant breath its life exhales.
So this immortal germ within my breast
Would strive to pierce the dull, dark clod of sense,
With aspirations wingéd and intense;
Would so stretch upward, in its tireless quest,
To meet the Central Soul, its source, its rest;
So in the fragrance of the immortal flower,
High thoughts and noble deeds, its life it would outpour.
On Seeing the Ivory Statue of Christ
The enthusiast brooding in his cell apart
O'er the sad image of the Crucified,--
The drooping head, closed lips and piercéd side,--
A holy vision fills his raptured heart;
With heavenly power inspired, his unskilled arm
Shapes the rude block to this transcendent form.
Oh Son of God! thus, ever thus, would I
Dwell on the loveliness enshrined in Thee;
The lofty faith, the sweet humility;
The boundless love, the love that could not die.
And as the sculptor, with thy glory warm,
Gave to this chiselled ivory thy fair form,
So would my spirit, in thy thought divine,
Grow to a semblance, fair as this, of Thine.
Securely cabined in the ship below,
Through darkness and through storm I cross the sea,
A pathless wilderness of waves to me:
But yet I do not fear, because I know
That he who guides the good ship o'er that waste
Sees in the stars her shining pathway traced.
Blindfold I walk this life's bewildering maze;
Up flinty steep, through frozen mountain pass,
Through thornset barren and through deep morass:
But strong in faith I tread the uneven ways,
And bare my head unshrinking to the blast,
Because my Father's arm is round me cast;
And if the way seems rough, I only clasp
The hand that leads me with a firmer grasp.
On a Picture of the Virgin
If the young mother clasp, for the first time,
The mortal child that earthly love has given,
With a deep joy preluding that of heaven;
Who shall describe thy ecstacy sublime,
Oh Virgin mother! when upon thy ear
The message of the announcing angel fell,
In heavenly tones to calm thy rising fear,
And thy approaching glory to fortell.
Was ever mother so divinely blest,
As when, the glow of Heaven yet clinging round him,
Before the weight of human grief had bound him,
The gentle Christ-child to thy heart was prest?
Oh, blessed among women! joy like thine
What hand shall dare describe! alas, not mine.
"Oh! in that better land to which I go"
Oh! in that better land to which I go,
Say, shall I know thee as I know thee here;
And will thy presence dim that glorious sphere,
As it hath darkened all the earth below?
Oh! will that voice enchain my listening ear,
Whose "frozen music" stops my pulses now;
And shall I meet in that fair land of bliss
Those calm, cold eyes that chill me so in this?
Shall I bear hence e'en memory of thee?
Unheeded then will pass the Angel throngs;
I shall not hear the Seraph's burning songs,
And heaven itself will be all dark to me.
Oh give me rather that drear, hopeless faith,
That sees no morn beyond the night of death!
The honey-bee that wanders all day long,
The field, the woodland, and the garden o'er,
To gather in his fragrant winter store,
Humming in calm content his quiet song,
Seeks not alone the rose's glowing breast,
The lily's dainty cup, the violet's lips,--
But from all rank and noxious weeds he sips
The single drop of sweetness closely press'd
Within the poison chalice. Thus, if we
Seek only to draw forth the hidden sweet,
In all the varied human flowers we meet,
In the wide garden of humanity,
And like the bee, if home the spoil we bear,
Hived in our hearts it turns to nectar there.
"Oh thou who once on earth, beneath the weight"
Oh thou who once on earth, beneath the weight
Of our mortality didst live and move,
The incarnation of profoundest love;
Who on the Cross that love didst consummate;
Whose deep and ample fullness could embrace
The poorest, meanest of our fallen race:
How shall we e'er that boundless debt repay?
By long loud prayers in gorgeous temples said?
By rich oblations on thine altars laid?
Ah, no! not thus thou didst appoint the way:
When thou wast bowed our human woe beneath,
Then as a legacy thou didst bequeath
Earth's sorrowing children to our ministry--
And as we do to them, we do to thee.
Go forth in life, oh friend! not seeking love;
A mendicant, that with imploring eye
And outstretched hand asks of the passers by
The alms his strong necessities may move.
For such poor love to pity near allied,
Thy generous spirit may not stoop and wait,
A suppliant, whose prayer may be denied,
Like a spurned beggar's at a palace gate:
But thy heart's affluence lavish uncontrolled;
The largess of thy love give full and free,
As monarchs in their progress scatter gold;
And be thy heart like the exhaustless sea,
That must its wealth of cloud and dew bestow,
Though tributary streams or ebb or flow.
The Sun and Stream
As some dark stream within a cavern's breast,
Flows murmuring, moaning for the distant sun,
So ere I met thee, murmuring its unrest,
Did my life's current coldly, darkly run.
And as that stream, beneath the sun's full gaze,
Its separate course and life no more maintains,
But now absorbed, transfused far o'er the plains,
It floats, etherealized in those warm rays;
So in the sunlight of thy fervid love,
My heart, so long to earth's dark channels given,
Now soars, all pain, all doubt, all ill above,
And breathes the ether of the upper heaven:
So thy high spirit holds and governs mine;
So is my life, my being, lost in thine!
Ah no! my love knows no vain jealousy:
The rose that blooms and lives but in the sun,
Asks not what other flowers he shines upon,
If he but shine on her. Enough for me,
Thus in thy light to dwell, and thus to share
The sunshine of thy smile with all things fair.
I know thou'rt vowed to Beauty, not to Love.
I would not stay thy footsteps from one shrine,
Nor would I bind thee by a sigh to mine.
For me--I have no lingering wish to rove;
For though I worship all things fair, like thee,
Of outward grace, of soul-nobility;
Happier than thou, I find them all in one,
And I would worship at thy shrine alone!
The Lake and Star
The mountain lake, o'ershadowed by the hills,
May still gaze heavenward on the evening star,
Whose distant light its dark recesses fills,
Though boundless distance must divide them far;
Still may the lake the star's bright image bear,
Still may the star, from its blue ether dome,
Shower down its silver beams across the gloom,
And light the wave that wanders darkly there.
Star of my life! thus do I turn to thee
Amid the shadows that above me roll;
Thus from thy distant sphere thou shinest on me;
Thus does thine image float upon my soul,
Through the wide space that must our lives dissever
Far as the lake and star, ah me! forever.
Night closes round me, and wild threatening forms
Clasp me with icy arms and chain me down,
And bind upon my brow a cypress crown,
Dewy with tears, and heaven frowns dark with storms;
But the one glorious memory of thee
Rises upon my path to guide and bless,
The bright SHEKINAH of the wilderness,
The Polar Star upon a trackless sea,
The beaming Pharos of the unreached shore.
It spans the clouds that gather o'er my way,
The rainbow of my life's tempestuous day.
Oh, blessed thought! stay with me evermore,
And shed thy lustrous beams where midnight glooms,
As fragrant lamps burned in the ancient tombs.
"Give me the bracelets that your warriors wear,"
The Roman traitress to the Sabine cried,
"Give me the toys, and I will be your guide,
And to your host the city's gates unbar."
Then to the walls each eager warrior rushed,
And on the base Tarpeia as he passed,
Each from his arm the massive circlet cast,
Till her slight form beneath the weight was crushed.
Thus are our idle wishes. Thus we sigh
For some imagined good yet unattained;--
For wealth, or fame, or love, and which once gained
May like a curse o'er all our future lie.
Thus in our blindness do we ask of fate,
The gifts that once bestowed may crush us with their weight.
Oh bard! what though upon thy mortal eyes
There fell no glimmering ray of earthly light,
And the deep shadow of eternal night
Shut from thy gaze our lovely earth and skies,
Yet was it to thy spirit's vision given
To gaze upon the splendors of that shore
Eye had not seen, nor heart conceived before.
Then didst thou, Poet Laureate of heaven,
Sing of those courts and of that angel host,
Of that majestic Spirit who in vain
Dared, warred, and fell, never to rise again,
And of that Paradise so early lost,
In strains "posterity shall not let die,"
In "thoughts that wander through eternity."
Thou brave old Titan, that in chains didst lie,
Bound to the rock on the Caucasian hill,
Who by sublime endurance didst defy
Imperial Jove and all his shapes of ill;
As I invoke thy spirit here to-day,--
From the old Pagan world thou speak'st to me,
I hear thy voice across Time's sounding sea,
Bid me thus bear and conquer.--I obey.
Henceforth, like thee, I will endure and wait
On life's bleak summit bound, without dismay.
Then in thine iron car roll on thy way,
Thou stern, relentless power that men call Fate,
Loose then thy bolts thou dark and threat'ning sky--
Thou vulture at my heart, feed to satiety!