The People of the Gates [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in The Ways of Many Waters (1899).]


The People of the Gates.

The Great God sate in His council
On the arch of a rainbow span,
With the white Archangel Michael
And Peter the Fisherman.
In the court of Anointed Martyrs,
In the place of the Shining Host,
He spake, with the Voice of Voices,
A speech of the Holy Ghost:—

“I will portion the lands to my peoples,
The Earth will I share them anew,
To hold with the bowstring and powder,
To keep with the marrow and thew;
And they that are strong shall be stronger,
And they that are weak — let them go!
For this is the Word of My Father,
And I have uttered it so.”

The Great God called to His peoples;
The breath of the Spirit’s mouth,
It shifted them outward and onward,
It scattered them north and south.
The hail and the frost behind them,
With Hunger and Death to fare,
They marched in the track of the Eagle,
They came in the trail of the Bear.

Then the harp of the Angel sounded
The song of the Nation’s feet,
And the battle hymns of the peoples
Came up to the Council seat.
But out from his place stood Peter:
“O Lord, if my speaking please,
Thou hast given the lands to the peoples,
But what wilt Thou do with the Seas?”

But simply the Lord made answer:
“It was even the same with thee
When thou stood’st in the Hall of Pilate,
Three times denying me!
Behold how the lands are portioned,
To each as he liketh best;
But here be a little people
Have taken the Isles of the West.

“The others have chosen and tarried,
And he that is weak let him fall;
The others shall take from each other,
But these they shall take from them all!
For strong in the thew and the marrow,
And richer in daring be these;
Their neighbours have gotten the places,
But they have gotten the Seas!

“The others have builded and waited,
But these will abide by their keels,
To set on the heels of the oceans
The empire and sign of their seals.
Let theirs be the right of the waters,
Let theirs be the keys of the straits,
For they are a hardy people
Who sit at the Western gates!”

Thus spake the Lord in his Council,
In the Hall of the Shining Host,
Who spake with a Voice of Voices
The speech of the Holy Ghost,
That they who were strong shall be stronger,
That they who were little should grow,
Still holding the Seas in their keeping:
Our Lord He hath written it so.

E. J. Brady, The Ways of Many Waters, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1909 [first published 1899], pages 153-155

Editor’s notes:
thews = muscles or sinews; physical strength or vitality

[Editor: Corrected the second instance of “shining Host” to “Shining Host” (in line with the capitalization of the first instance).]

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