Poems (Botta)/Science

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For works with similar titles, see Science.


Darkness sat brooding o’er the infant world, That in chaotic gloom and silence lay, Till from the throne of Light the sun was hurled; Then that eternal night was changed to day, And his effulgent, life-imparting ray, O’er the wide waste of waters moved along: The land and sea divided, and away From out their depths young Nature startled sprung, And in the light rejoiced till the blue heavens rung.

Even thus, oh! Science, hath thy glorious light Rolled the dark clouds of Ignorance away, Dispelled the darkness of a deeper night, Than that which once o’er chaos thickly lay— The darkness of the mind; and thy mid-day Is still far distant—yet nor time nor space Is unillumined with thy heavenly ray: The clouds are rent that shrouded Nature’s face, And now she stands unveiled in all her loveliness.

Onward thou movest on thy tireless wing, Through air and sea to Earth’s remotest shore, And givest a name to every living thing, The beast, the bird, the insect or the flower, The jewel of the mine, the sparkling ore. Thou knowest the mysteries of the unseen air; Thou lightest the caverns of the deep, whose floor Yields to thy hand its pearls and treasures rare, And every tinted shell that breathes its music there.

Now on the bosom of the swelling flood That clasps the earth, and by whose wave-worn side In ages past our trembling fathers stood, Nor dared to breast the deep and trackless tide, Our floating palaces majestic ride, Their canvas whitening every foreign strand; For thou, oh Science, thou art there our guide— Like that bright pillar reared at God’s command, To light his wandering sons through Egypt’s desert land.

And by the radiance of that heavenly light Now man may mark the wandering comet’s way, Measure the swiftness of the sunbeam’s flight, Command the elements and they obey. O’er the whole earth he holds his godlike sway; He bids the river from its course be driven, And lo! it flows where’er he points the way; And from the skies the lightning he has riven, As erst Prometheus stole the sacred fire from heaven.

Science! illumined by thy living rays, A brighter glory lights the dome of night; There thou dost open to our wondering gaze System on System round those worlds of light, In silence winging their harmonious flight. And when weak sense returns to earth again, There we behold, when thou dost guide our sight, Above, around, where’er our gaze hath been, “Infinity without, Infinity within.”

Here hath thy sister, Art, upreared for thee A stainless shrine where fair young spirits led To seek thy smile, shall bow the willing knee: They would not ask the radiance thou didst shed Around a Newton’s or a Franklin’s head; Albeit a milder and a gentler ray, That through this world with loveliness o’er spread, They may not roam along the sunny way In dark and dreary night while all around is day.

Long may their columns stand through coming years, When we who kneel within these snowy walls May time tread lightly through these classic halls; Have passed away to yonder blessed spheres, Secure from change, from parting, and from tears, Where our enfranchised spirits shall explore Those boundless realms beyond the tide of years, Rapt, at the shrine of all creating power, Through endless time to learn, and wonder, and adore.