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Eavesdropping

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



THOUGH the winds but stir on their hoary thrones
Of hemlock and pungent pine,
All the whispering woodland tones
Gossip of things divine, —
Why God is gray in the granite rock,
And green in the lichen flake,
And swift in the darting swallow-flock,
And slow in the lapping lake;
Why God is sweet in the hermit-thrush,
And hoarse in the frog; and why
His touch on the bee is golden plush,
And gauze on the stinging fly;
Why God is life in the mushroom there,
And death in the toadstool here;
Mirth in the dancing maidenhair;
In its hidden adder, fear.
Oh, if this berry that stains my lip
Could teach me the woodland chat,
Science would bow to my scholarship,
And Theology doff the hat.

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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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    "Eavesdropping" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 1 Dec. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/24855/eavesdropping>.

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