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A Mountain Storm

Katharine Lee Bates 1859 (Falmouth) – 1929 (Wellesley)



OUR blue sierras shone serene, sublime,
When ghostly shapes came crowding up the air,
Shadowing the landscape with some vast despair;
And all was changed as in weird pantomime,
Transfigured into vague, fantastic form
By that tremendous carnival of storm.
Pilgrim processions of bowed trees that climb
To sacred summits, in the clashing hail
Shuddered like flagellants beneath the flail.
Most gracious hills, in that tempestuous time,
Went wild as angered bulls, with bellowing cry
And goring horns that strove to charge the sky.
Masses of rock, long gnawed by stealthy rime,
With sudden roar that made our bravest blanch,
Came volleying down in fatal avalanche.
All nature seemed convulsed in some fierce crime,
And then a rainbow, and behold! the sun
Went comforting the harebells one by one;
And all was still save for the vesper chime
From far, faint belfry bathed in creamy light,
And the soft footfalls of the coming night.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Katharine Lee Bates

Katharine Lee Bates is remembered as the author of the words to the anthem America the Beautiful Bates was born in Falmouth Massachusetts and lived as an adult on Centre Street in Newton Massachusetts An historic plaque marks the site of her home The daughter of a Congregational pastor she graduated from Wellesley College in 1880 and for many years was a professor of English literature at Wellesley While teaching there she was elected a member of the newly formed Pi Gamma Mu honor society for the social sciences because of her interest in history and politics for which she also studied She lived at Wellesley with Katharine Coman who herself was a history and political economy teacher and founder of the Wellesley College Economics department The pair lived together for twenty-five years until Comans death in 1915 It is debated if this relationship was an intimate lesbian relationship as different sources maintain or a platonic relationship called sometimes Boston marriages as the local historical society of her birthplace maintain more…

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