America the Beautiful: The Stirring True Story behind Our Nations's Favorite Song

By Lynn Sherr | Go to book overview
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THE POEM

The music came first, but without the poem there would be no song, so I'm going to start with the words. Some believe they were there all along, inspired thoughts ready to emerge at just the right moment. The poet herself never explained it any better.

At 3 p.m. on a sunny afternoon in June 1893, Katharine Lee Bates boarded a train in Boston to embark on a remarkable journey. It was a breathless beginning. She barely made it to the Fitchburg Railroad station after packing her bags and putting the final touches on her lecture notes for the summer school courses she'd been engaged to teach in Colorado. Bates was thirty-three years old, head of the English department at the recently established Wellesley

Fitchburg Railroad

College, and this would be her first expedition out West—a welcome opportunity to supplement her modest income and take in the sights of an exuberant land hurtling toward a vibrant but uncertain future.

-13-

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