Katharine Lee Bates, poet, educator and ardent feminist, is best known for writing the poem, “America the Beautiful.” Professor Bates was inspired to write the poem in 1893, when she journeyed across the country to lecture at Colorado College’s summer session. During her time there, she joined an expedition that ascended Pike’s Peak with its panoramic view from a 14,110-foot vantage point. According to Miss Bates, “It was then and there, as I was looking out over the sea-like expanse of fertile country spreading away so far under those ample skies, that the opening lines floated into my mind. When we left Colorado Springs the four stanzas were penciled in my notebook.” The verses first appeared in print in The Congregationalist on July 4, 1895. This poem became the lyrics to the popular song, “America the Beautiful” that generations of Americans have considered our national hymn.


“America the Beautiful”
by Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!
O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When once or twice, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain,
The banner of the free!
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
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee


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