Katharine Lee Bates

Aug. 12, 1859 - Mar. 28, 1929


What Is The Spirit?

by Katharine Lee Bates


What is the spirit? Nay,
We know not -- star in clay.

We know not, yet we trust
The dream within the dust.

We trust not, yet we hark
The song within the dark.


These few bewildered days
Ask little blame or praise.

All mortal deeds go by
As cloudlets down the sky.

We are our longing. Thus
Let Love remember us.


We know not whither beat
Its wings, nor what defeat

Death's mighty muffling glooms
May cast on fluttering plumes,

Or if it be success --
That folded quietness.


When like a flaming scroll
Earth shrivels, if the soul

Should those fierce heats outwear,
What of ourselves were there?

A longing bruised and dim,
A seed of seraphim.


Yellow Clover: A Book Of Remembrance
Copyright 1922
E. P. Dutton & Company, New York