The Seven Sisters [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in The Earthen Floor (1902).]


The Seven Sisters.

By the Word of God the Father
On His third creation morn,
By the Voice of the Eternal
Were the Seven Sisters born.

They shall stand until the Sunrise
And the Sunset be as one;
They shall hold until the Darkness
And the Day are also done.

On their bosoms undulating,
Rocked the first, frail, bark canoe,
Where now, throbbing, palpitating,
Churns the mile-devouring screw.

To and fro their lovers wander,
But their hearts aye turn again
To the surges white, that thunder
On the shores of every main.

In the night-time of the Forests —
Of the Forests far and dim —
They will hear the waters calling,
Oh, so softly calling them.

Yea, the fair, bewitching Sisters,
They, the Kind, the Ever Young,
With their tender liquid voices,
And a plaintive Siren tongue.

They will see, in yearning visions,
White sails gleaming far away;
And they come back, come back ever
To their old sea loves some day.

Oh, the splendour of the story!
Oh, the pathos of the tears!
Oh, the glamor and the glory.
Of the grand historic years!

They can boast no ruined city,
They can speak no tombs sublime;
For they hide in queenly pity
All the wrack and waste of time.

In dead days those Regal Sisters
Saw the crowded Punic quays,
Saw the Greek and Roman galleys
Sweep triumphant through the Seas.

They who give her wealth to London —
As they gave it once to Spain —
They who keep the Vikings safely,
Till the Vikings come again.

They were wedded to the Doges,
They were flattered by high lords;
And they hold their tithes of plunder
From a thousand plundered hoards.

They were mothers unto heroes,
And the men who loved — and slew,
In their shotted hammocks biding,
To the Sisters still are true.

They have seen the pirates’ canvas
On their dark dominions wide,
Who behold the smoke out-trailing
Of the liner in her pride.

Teak or iron! Naught shall matter —
They are still the Sister Seas
Holding in their hearts the secrets
Of uncounted mysteries.

Oh, the Seven Restless Sisters,
Who with swift feet come and go,
From the scented, sunlit tropics
To the Lands of Ice and Snow.

Oh, the Seven laughing Sisters
That the Kings and Heroes knew!
Oh, the Seven Strong Sultanas
In their royal robes of blue!

E. J. Brady, The Earthen Floor, Grafton (N.S.W.): Grip Newspaper Co., 1902

Editor’s notes:
aye = always, forever

main = the high sea, the open ocean

morn = morning

pathos = compassion or pity; or an experience, or a work of art, that evokes feelings of compassion or pity

Seven Sisters = the seven seas, i.e. all of the world’s oceans (can also refer to the Pleiades star cluster, named after seven sisters in Greek mythology)

slew = past tense of “slay”; killed

sultana = (also known as a “sultaness”) a woman who is part of a sultan’s family (mother, sister, wife, daughter), especially the wife or concubine of a sultan; a concubine or mistress (may also refer to a dried seedless grape, seedless raisin, golden raisin, or to the seedless grape itself)

wrack = wreck, wreckage, especially a wrecked ship; something destroyed, or a remnant thereof (such as a shipwreck, or a piece of wreckage); collapse, destruction, or ruin (as in the phrase “wrack and ruin”)

yea = yes; indeed; truly; an affirmation (especially an affirmative vote), an indication of assent

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