This week I am taking a trip down memory lane with Katherine Lee Bates. About eight years ago I had the privilege of performing as Katherine in an original piece called "Scandal and Scones". This was part script and mostly improvisation. In order to speak as the character it was necessary for me to study the life of Katherine Lee Bates.
We all know she wrote the poem "America the Beautiful", that is the poem not the song. The song/tune is a hymn written by a gentleman named Ward called "Materna". What I found was a poet who kept a journal and started writing poems at an early age. One of her first was called "Romance of Count Hymbo". It begins with the lines:
Count Hymbo was a gallint knight
Of honor and renown
None braver was there in the fight,
Pride of his native town.
It ended with the lines:
From his couch up started that night,
His handsome face was deathly white,
The figure vanished from his sight,
And Count Hymbo died of fright.
She signed it Katie L. Bates
An interesting piece from a young girl. Her later years saw so many varied and interesting works. A few of my favorites are:
White wing, White wing,
Lily of the air,
What word dost bring,
On whose errand fare?
Red word, Red word,
snowy plumes abhor.
I, Christ's own bird,
Do the work of war.
and the second
If You Could Come
My love, my love, if you could come once more
From your high place,
I would not question you for heavenly lore,
But, silent, take the comfort of your face.
I would not ask you if those golden spheres
In love rejoice,
If only our stained star hath sin and tears,
But fill my famished hearing with your voice.
One touch of you were worth a thousand creeds.
My wound is numb
Through toil-pressed, but all night long it bleeds
In aching dreams, and still you cannot come.
As you can see there is so much more to this poetess/writer than one poem indicates. Although 'America the Beautiful' is such an iconic work, Katherine Lee Bates other works deserve a second and third look. I am so glad to have been put into the position of learning more, it has opened up worlds and words I might never have experienced.