Beyond

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

COLOSSAL orb of space,
Sparkling with diamond
Of countless star on star,
All whirling with wild grace
In their enwoven dance
Illimitably far,
What lies beyond
Your vasty hollow girdled by that bright
River of stellar spray
We call the Milky Way?
Immeasurable ball,
Cornpassed and clasped in light,
Can you be all,
A flock of fireflies circling in the night,
A maze of jewels that the toss of Chance
Let fall,
Sun, planet, asteroid,
One globe of glories in the utter void?
What lies beyond?
Does the sheer Dark immerse
Infinity, drowning the last faint gold
Of fleeting comets, lost and vagabond?
Or is this astral universe,
All that our utmost vision may behold,
But one amidst a host of star-strewn spheres,
Each zoned with its own stream
Of softer gleam,
Perchance each dowered with wonder, love and tears?
What lies beyond?
The puny human heart still stirs
Against those flaming barriers,
That proud, impenetrable dome
Of fire and ether, seeking for a home,
A Soul that shall respond
To all its questions, longings and despairs.
Is space but raiment that the Spirit wears,
A gem-embroidered mantle to conceal
And yet reveal
In splendors of surprise
Beauty ineffable,
Immanuel?
Or shall we rise,
Higher than dream of Dante ever trod,
From star to star, from empyrean on
To empyrean, till the sun that shone
Over our vexed mortality be wan,
Through life on life, eternal range
From form to form, from change to change,
To find the Unknown God?

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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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