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In The Oak

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



THE leaves and tassels of the oak
Were golden-green with May,
Pavilion whence forever broke
Some angel roundelay.
A carol like a glory came
From topmost twig astir,
Enkindled by a flying flame,
The scarlet tanager.
The tree was glad as Paradise
When, eager soul on soul,
The saints flock home. There glistened twice
A wild-throat oriole;
And once the grosbeak's rosy breast
Poured its enchanted hymn;
While sunny wing and jewel crest
Lit many a blissful limb.
The whole wide world was in my oak
Whose catkins danced for mirth,
Plumes gray as curling city smoke,
Plumes brown as fresh-plowed earth;
Even heaven had graced our festival,
For oft the loving eye
Would find, coaxed by a wistful call,
The bluebird's fleck of sky.

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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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