March 28, 2011

Death of Bates

Katharine Lee Bates was 69 years old when she died at her home in Wellesley, Massachusetts on March 28, 1929. By then, she was well-known as well as a respected scholar and professor at Wellesley College and the editor of several anthologies of other writers and poets, including some collections of children's stories. Born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, she was also widely recognized as the author of the song "America the Beautiful." She wrote many other poems of equal merit, however, including several which called for social justice throughout the world. This one is "When the Millennium Comes":

When the Millennium comes
Only the kings will fight,
While the princes beat the drums,
And the queens in aprons white,
Arnica bottle in hand,
Watch their Majesties throw,
With a gesture vague and grand,
Their crowns at the dodging foe,
Poor old obsolete crowns
That Time hangs up in a row.

When the Millennium comes
And the proud steel navies meet,
While the furious boiler hums,
And the vengeful pistons beat,
The sailors will stay on shore
And cheer with a polyglot shout
The self-fed cannon that roar
Till metal has fought it out,
But the warm, glad bodies of boys
Are not for the waves to flout.

When the Millennium comes,
Love, the mother of life,
Will have worked out all the sums
Of our dim industrial strife,
And every man shall be lord
Of his deed and his dream, and the lore
Of war shall be abhorred
As a dragon-tale of yore,
Myth of the Iron Age,
A monster earth breeds no more.

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