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Matthew Arnold On hearing him read his Poems in Boston

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



A stranger, schooled to gentle arts,
He stept before the curious throng;
His path into our waiting hearts
Already paved by song.

Full well we knew his choristers,
Whose plaintive voices haunt our rest,
Those sable-vested harbingers
Of melancholy guest.

We smiled on him for love of these,
With eyes that swift grew dim to scan
Beneath the veil of courteous ease
The faith-forsaken man.

To his wan gaze the weary shows
And fashions of our vain estate,
Our shallow pain and false repose,
Our barren love and hate,

Are shadows in a land of graves,
Where creeds, the bubbles of a dream,
Flash each and fade, like melting waves
Upon a moonlight stream.

Yet loyal to his own despair,
Erect beneath a darkened sky,
He deems the austerest truth more fair
Than any gracious lie;

And stands, heroic, patient, sage,
With hopeless hands that bind the sheaf,
Claiming God's work with His wage,
The bard of unbelief.

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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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