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Above the Battle

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



Honor and pity for the smitten field,
The valorous ranks mown down like precious corn,
Whose want must famish love morn after morn,
Till Death, the good physician, shall have healed
The craving and the tearspent eyelids sealed.
Proud be the homes that for each cannon-torn,
Encrimsoned rampart have been left forlorn;
Holy the knells o'er fallen patriots pealed.

But they, above the battle, throng a space
Of starry silences and silver rest.
Commingled ghosts, they press like brothers through
White, dove-winged portals, where one Father's face
Atones their passion, as the ethereal blue
Serenes the fiery glows of east and west.

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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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