Poems (Botta)/The Image Broken

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’Twas but a dream; a fond and foolish dream; The calenture of a delirious brain, Whose fever thirst creates the rushing stream. Now to the actual I awake again: The vision to my gaze one moment granted, Fades in its light away, and leaves me disenchanted.

The image that my glowing fancy wrought, Now to the dust with ruthless hand I cast: Thus I renounce the worship that I sought; Of my own idol the iconoclast. The echo of “Eureka, I have found!” Falls back upon my heart, a vain and empty sound.

Oh disembodied being of my mind, So wildly loved, so fervently adored; In whom all high and glorious gifts I shrined, And my heart’s incense on the altar poured; Now do I know, that clad in mortal cuise, Ne’er on this earth wilt thou upon my vision rise.

That only in the vague, cold realm of thought, Shall I meet thee whom here I seek in vain; And like Egyptian Isis, when she sought The scattered fragments of Osiris slain, Now do I know that I shall never find But fragments of thy soul within earth’s clay enshrined.

Thou whom I have not seen, and shall not see, Till the sad drama of this life be o’er! Yet do I not renounce my faith in thee: Thou still art mine, I thine, forevermore; And this belief shall be the funeral pyre Of all less noble love,—of all less high desire.

Here, like the Hindoo widow, I will bring Hope, youth, and all that woman prizes most, The glow of summer and the bloom of spring, And on thy altar lay the holocaust; And in my faith exulting, I will see The sacrifice consume, I consecrate to thee.

To love’s sweet tones my heart shall never thrill, Nor, as the tardy years their circles roll, Shall they the ardor of its pulses chill. Thus will I live, in widowhood of soul, Until, at last, my lingering exile o’er, Upon some lovelier star, too bless’d, we meet once more.

Oh, tell me not, that now indeed I dream; That these aspirings mocked at last will be:— Gleams of a higher life, to me they seem A sacred pledge of immortality. Tell not the yearning heart it shall not find: Oh Love, thou art too strong! Oh God, thou art too kind!