Out Of Siberia

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



SHAKERAGS, cripples, gaunt and dazed,
Prison-broken hosts on hosts,
Torture-scarred and dungeon-crazed,
Down the convict road they pour,
More and more and myriads more,
Terrible as ghosts.
Shuffling feet that miss the chain,
Shoulders welted, faces hoar,
Sightless eyes that stare in vain,
Writhen limbs and idiot tongue—
They are old who were so young
When they passed before.
Grimy from the mines, a stain
And a horror on the white
Sweep of the Siberian plain,
These, grotesque and piteous, these
Fill the earth with jubilees,
Flood the skies with light.
While each squalid tatter spins
At the sport of wind and snow,
Russia hails her paladins,
And with cheer or sob proclaims
Long unspoken hero names,
Names they hardly know.
They unto themselves are vague,
Even as they tear the bread
That their famished fingers beg;
They themselves are specters, who
Melt into their retinue
Of unnumbered dead.
From the shackles, from the whips,
Over frozen steppes they stream,
Quavering songs on ghastly lips,
Haggard, holy caravan,
Saviours of the soul of man,
Martyrs of a dream;
Martyrs of a dream fulfilled,
Givers who have paid the price,
Homing now to hearths long chilled,
Guests exalted over all
At glad Freedom's festival,
Saints of sacrifice.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:02 min read
26

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABACCBDCDEECDFDGBFHIBJJIKLMNNLOPOQQPRSRTUS
Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 1,212
Words 208
Stanzas 1
Stanza Lengths 42

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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