Edwin James Brady

Here you will find the Long Poem The Wardens of the Seas of poet Edwin James Brady

The Wardens of the Seas

Like star points in the ether to guide a homing soul 
Towards God's Eternal Haven; above the wash and roll, 
Across and o'er the oceans, on all the coasts they stand 
Tall seneschals of commerce, High Wardens of the Strand -- 
   The white lights slowly turning 
   Their kind eyes far and wide, 
   The red and green lights burning 
   Along the waterside. 

When Night with breath of aloes, magnolia, spice, and balm 
Creeps down the darkened jungles and mantles reef and palm, 
By velvet waters making soft music as they surge 
The shore lights of dark Asia will one by one emerge -- 
   Oh, Ras Marshig by Aden 
   Shows dull on hazy nights; 
   And Bombay Channel's laid in 
   Its "In" and "Outer" lights. 

When Night, in rain-wet garments comes sobbing cold and grey 
Across the German Ocean and South from Stornoway, 
Thro' snarling darkness slowly, some fixed and some a-turn, 
The bright shore-lights of Europe like welcome tapers burn, -- 
   From fierce Fruholmen streaming 
   O'er Northern ice and snow, 
   To Cape St. Vincent gleaming, -- 
   These lamps of danger glow. 

The dark Etruscan tending his watchfires by the shore, 
On sacred altars burning, the world shall know no more; 
His temple's column standing against the ancient stars 
Is gone; Now bright catoptrics flash out electric bars, -- 
   Slow swung his stately Argos 
   Unto the Tiber's mouth; 
   But now the Tuscan cargoes 
   Screw-driven, stagger South. 

The lantern of Genoa guides home no Eastern fleets 
As when the boy Columbus played in its narrow streets: 
No more the Keltic `dolmens' their fitful warnings throw 
Across the lone Atlantic, so long, so long ago -- 
   No more the beaked prows dashing 
   Shall dare a shoreward foam; 
   No more will great oars threshing 
   Sweep Dorian galleys home. 

No more the Vikings roaring their sagas wild and weird 
Proclaim that Rome has fallen; no more a consul feared 
Shall quench the Roman pharos lest Northern pirates free 
Be pointed to their plunder on coasts of Italy -- 
   Nor shall unwilling lovers, 
   From Lethean pleasures torn, 
   Fare nor'ward with those rovers, 
   To frozen lands forlorn. 

The bale-fires and the watch-fires, the wrecker's foul false lure 
No more shall vex the shipmen; and on their course secure 
Past Pharos in the starlight the tow'ring hulls of Trade 
Race in and out from Suez in iron cavalcade, -- 
   So rode one sunset olden 
   Across the dark'ning sea, 
   With banners silk and golden, 
   The Barge of Antony! 

They loom along the foreshores; they gleam across the Straits; 
They guide the feet of Commerce unto the harbor gates. 
In nights of storm and thunder, thro' fog and sleet and rain, 
Like stars on angels' foreheads, they give man heart again, -- 
   Oh, hear the high waves smashing 
   On Patagonia's shore! 
   Oh, hear the black waves threshing 
   Their weight on Skerryvore! 

He searches night's grim chances upon his bridge alone 
And seeks the distant glimmer of hopeful Eddystone: 
And thro' a thick fog creeping, with chart and book and lead, 
The homeward skipper follows their green and white and red -- 
   By day his lighthouse wardens 
   In sunlit quiet stand, 
   But in the night the burdens 
   Are theirs of Sea and Land. 

They fill that night with Knowledge. A thousand ships go by, 
A thousand captains bless them, so bright and proud and high: 
The world's dark capes they glamour; or low on sand banks dread, 
They, crouching, mark a pathway between the Quick and Dead -- 
   Like star points in the ether 
   They bring the seamen ease, 
   These Lords of Wind and Weather 
   These Wardens of the Seas!