Katharine Lee Bates

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Because the years are few, I must be glad;
Because the silence is so near, I sing

Katharine Lee Bates (12 August 185928 March 1929) was an American author and poet, chiefly remembered for her anthem "America the Beautiful", but also for her many books and articles on social reform, on which she was a noted speaker.

Quotes[edit]

America the Beautiful (1893, 1895; 1904)[edit]

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
Written in 1893, first published in The Congregationalist in 1895, revised in 1904; first titled "America the Beautiful" in 1910.
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
  • O beautiful for pilgrim feet
    Whose stern impassion'd stress
    A thoroughfare for freedom beat
    Across the wilderness.
    America! America!
    God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
    Confirm thy soul in self-control,
    Thy liberty in law.
  • O beautiful for heroes prov'd
    In liberating strife,
    Who more than self their country loved,
    And mercy more than life.

    America! America!
    May God thy gold refine
    Till all success be nobleness,
    And ev'ry gain divine.
  • O beautiful for patriot dream
    That sees beyond the years
    Thine alabaster cities gleam
    Undimmed by human tears.
    America! America!
    God shed His grace on thee,
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea.

America the Beautiful and Other Poems (1911)[edit]

Never was there lovelier town
Than our Falmouth by the sea.
America the Beautiful and Other Poems (1911)

The Falmouth Bell[edit]

Here is princely interchange
Of the gifts of shore and field…
Section II, p. 39
Hast thou seen the years drift by,
From the dreamful, dim profound
To a goal beyond the eye.
Still thy mellow voice and clear
Floats o'er land and listening deep,
And we deem our fathers hear
From their shadowy hill of sleep.
  • Never was there lovelier town
    Than our Falmouth by the sea.

    Tender curves of sky look down
    On her grace of knoll and lea.
  • Here is princely interchange
    Of the gifts of shore and field,
    Starred with treasures rare and strange
    That the liberal sea-chests yield.

    Culture here burns breezy torch
    Where gray captains, bronzed of neck
    Tread their little length of porch
    With a memory of the deck.
    Ah, and here the tenderest hearts,
    Here where sorrows sorest wring
    And the widows shift their parts
    Comforted and comforting.
    Holy bell of Paul Revere
    Calling such to prayer and praise.
    While a hundred times the year
    Herds her flock of faithful days!
  • Greetings to thee, ancient bell
    Of our Falmouth by the sea!
    Answered by the ocean swell,
    Ring thy centuried Jubilee!
    Like the white sails of the Sound,
    Hast thou seen the years drift by,
    From the dreamful, dim profound
    To a goal beyond the eye.
  • Still thy mellow voice and clear
    Floats o'er land and listening deep,
    And we deem our fathers hear
    From their shadowy hill of sleep.
    Ring thy peals for centuries yet,
    Living voice of Paul Revere!
    Let the future not forget
    That the past accounted dear!

The Ideal[edit]

I summon thee, recreant dreamer, to rise and follow thy dream.
All thou dost cherish may perish; still shall thy quest remain.
Section III, p. 59
  • By the promise of noon"s blue splendor in the dawn"s first silvery gleam,
    By the song of the sea that compelleth the path of the rockcleaving stream,
    I summon thee, recreant dreamer, to rise and follow thy dream.
  • In the inmost core of thy being I am a burning fire,
    From thine own altar-flame kindled in the hour when souls aspire,
    For know that men"s prayers shall be answered, and guard thy spirit"s desire.
  • That which thou wouldst be thou must be, that which thou shalt be thou art;
    As the oak, astir in the acorn, the dull earth rendeth apart,
    Lo thou, the seed of thy longing, that breaketh and waketh the heart.
  • I am the cry of the night wind, startling thy traitorous sleep;
    Moaning I echo thy music, and e"en while thou boastest to reap
    Alien harvests, my anger resounds from the vehement deep.
  • I am the solitude folding thy soul in a sudden embrace.
    Faint waxes the voice of thy fellow, wan the light on his face.
    Life is as cloud-drift about thee alone in shelterless space.
  • I am the drawn sword barring the lanes thy mutinous feet
    Vainly covet for greenness. Loitering pace or fleet,
    Thine is the crag-path chosen. On the crest shall rest be sweet.
  • I am thy strong consoler when the desolate human pain
    Darkens upon thee, the azure outblotted by rush of the rain.
    All thou dost cherish may perish; still shall thy quest remain.
  • Call me thy foe in thy passion; claim me in peace for thy friend;
    Yet bethink thee by lowland and upland, wherever thou wiliest to wend,
    I am thine Angel of Judgment; mine eyes thou must meet in the end.

The Debt (1923)[edit]

I …  Would make my peace now with mine hostess Earth,
Give and take pardon for all brief annoy,
And toss her, far beneath my lodging"s worth,
Poor that I am, a coin of golden joy.
The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. CXXXII (September 1923), p. 353
  • Because the years are few, I must be glad;
    Because the silence is so near, I sing;

    "Twere ill to quit an inn where I have had
    Such bounteous fare nor pay my reckoning.
    I would not, from some gleaming parapet
    Of Sirius or Vega, bend my gaze
    On a remembered sparkle and regret
    That from it thanklessly I went my ways
    Up through the starry colonnades nor found
    Violets in any Paradise more blue
    Than those that blossomed on my own waste ground
    Nor vespers sweeter than the robins knew.
  • Though earth be but an outpost of delight,
    Heaven"s wild frontier by tragedy beset,
    Only a Shakespeare may her gifts requite.
    Only a happy Raphael pay his debt.

    Yet I, to whom, even as to these, are given
    Cascading foam, emblazoned butterflies,
    The moon"s pearl chariot through the massed clouds driven,
    And the divinity of loving eyes,
    Would make my peace now with mine hostess Earth,
    Give and take pardon for all brief annoy,
    And toss her, far beneath my lodging"s worth,
    Poor that I am, a coin of golden joy.

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