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Three Steps

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

THREE steps there are our human life must climb.
The first is Force.
The savage struggled to it from the slime
And still it is our last, ashamed recourse.
Above that jagged stretch of red-veined stone
Is marble Law,
Carven with long endeavor, monotone
Of patient hammers, not yet free from flaw.
Three steps there are our human life must climb.
The last is Love,
Wrought from such starry element sublime
As touches the White Rose and Mystic Dove.
Poor world, that stumbles up with many a trip,
A child that clings
To the great Hand, whose lifting guardianship
Quickens in wayward feet the dream of wings!

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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…

All Katharine Lee Bates poems | Katharine Lee Bates Books

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