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White Moments

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



THE best of life, what is it but white moments?
Those swift illuminations when we see
The flying shadows on the fragrant meadows
As God beholds them from eternity.
White moments, when the bliss of being worships,
And fear and shame are heretics that burn
In holy fire of exquisite desire
For love's surrender and for love's return.
White moments, when a Power above the artist
Catches his plodding chisel, sets it free,
And from each urgent stroke there springs emergent
The wayward grace that laughs at industry.
White moments, when the drowsing soul, sense-muffled,
Is stung awake by some keen arrow-flight
And rends the bestial, claiming its celestial
Succession in the lineage of light.
White moments, when the spirit, long confronted
By all the bitter formulæ of fate,
Inveterate romancer, finds its answer
In some mysterious faith inviolate.
White moments, when the silence steals on sorrow,
And in that hush the heart becomes aware
Of wings that brood it, visions that seclude it
Forevermore from folly, fear and care.
The best of life, what is it but white moments?
Freedoms that break the chain and fling the load,
Irradiations, ardors, consecrations,
— The starry shrines along our pilgrim road.

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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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