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For the Reunion of the Bates Family at Quincy, August 3, 1916
FAR away on the sunny levels
Where Kent lies drowsing beside the sea,
Where over the foxglove as over the foam
The gray gull sails, is our ancient home.
Wide though we wander, something follows,
The cradle-call from a village hid
Under the cloud of rooks and swallows
That love its thatches and orchards, Lydd.
Here they sported in rustic revels,
Our sturdy forbears, while ale flowed free,
Richard and Susan and Sybil and John,
All their jollity hushed and gone;
Our grandsires proud of their scraps of Latin,
Our grandams, 'notable huswifs' all;
We may touch the very settles they sat in,
But they, like their shadows upon the wall,
Have slipped from their sweet, accustomed places,
Stephen, Samuel, Ellen, Anne.
The pewter flagons they valued so
Stand, though battered, in shining row,
But the hands that scoured them, long since folded,
Lips that smacked over them, long since dust,
Are known no more in the town they molded
To civic honor and neighbor trust.
Ah, for their quaint, forgotten graces,
Flushing raptures of maid and man,
James and Alice, Thomas and Joan,
Blood of our blood and bone of our bone!
Only the trampled slabs and brasses
That floor the aisles of the old church tell
Their dates and virtues to him who passes,
How long they labored in Lydd, how well.
Their Catholic sins have all been shriven,
And their Puritan righteousness pardoned, too.
Lax and merry, or holy and harsh,
They have flown to Heaven from Romney Marsh,
Lydia, David, Joshua, Zealous,
'Katharine Spinster,' yet still on earth
Their wraiths abide in our being, jealous
For the brief, blunt name and its modest worth.
For each of us is phantom-driven,
A haunted house where a glimmering crew
Of dear and queer ancestral ghosts
Quarrel and match their family boasts,
Color our half and fashion our noses,
Shape the deed and govern the mood;
In every rose are a thousand roses;
Every man is a multitude.
A patchwork we are of antique vagaries;
Primitive passions trouble our pulse.
'Margery, relict of Andrew Bate,'
Clement, Rachel and William hate
And adore in us. No vain sunriser
In all our clan, but he owes the praise
To some progenital dew-surpriser
Who knelt to the dawn in pagan days.
Sailors that steered for the misty Canaries,
Fishers whose feet loved the feel of the dulse,
Agnes, Simon, Julian, George,
Faithful in kitchen, hayfield and forge,
Give us our dreams, our sea-love, the voices
That speak in our conscience, rebuke and forbid.
Hark! In our festal laughter rejoices
A quavering note from the graves of Lydd.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:14 min read

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…

All Katharine Lee Bates poems | Katharine Lee Bates Books

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    "Lydd" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 22 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/24870/lydd>.

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