April 17, 2011

Augusta Cooper Bristol: Sweet child of April

Augusta Cooper (later Mrs. Kimball and, later still, Mrs. Bristol) was born in New Hampshire on April 17, 1835, the youngest of ten children. Very early on, she exhibited a talent in both mathematics and in poetry. She was first published at the age of 15. She moved to southern Illinois in the 1860s and, in 1868, she published her first book of poems with the simple title Poems. She became popular as a public lecturer and eventually moved to New Jersey.

Her (tongue-twistingly titled) poem "The Pyxidanthera":

Sweet child of April, I have found thy place
Of deep retirement. Where the low swamp-ferns
Curl upward from their sheathes, and lichens creep
Upon the fallen branch, and mosses dark
Deepen and brighten, where the ardent sun
Doth enter with restrained and chastened beam,
And the light cadence of the blue-bird's song
Doth falter in the cedar,—there the Spring,
In gratitude hath wrought the sweet surprise
And marvel of thy unobtrusive bloom.

Most perfect symbol of my purest thought,—
A thought so close and warm within my heart
No words can shape its secret, and no prayer
Can breathe its sacredness—be thou my type,
And breathe to one who wanders here at dawn,
The deep devotion, which transcending speech,
Lights all the folded silence of my heart
As thy sweet beauty doth the shadow here.

So let thy clusters brighten, star on star
Of pink and white about his lingering feet,
Till, dreaming and enchanted, there shall pass
Into his life the story that my soul
Hath given thee. So shall his will be stirred
To purest purpose and divinest deed,
And every hour be touched with grace and light.


  1. Augusta also nominated General Butler of the Green party for president prior to women having the right to vote. She lectured in Brussels and Paris.

  2. I wasn't aware - thank you for sharing! I typically only focus on literary achievements, as this is a literary blog.


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