Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PANAMA, by JAMES JEFFREY ROCHE



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PANAMA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Here the oceans twain have waited
Last Line: But -- the hand that ope'd the gate shall forever hold the key!
Subject(s): Panama Canal; Canal Zone


HERE the oceans twain have waited
All the ages to be mated, --
Waited long and waited vainly,
Though the script was written plainly:
"This, the portal of the sea,
Opes for him who holds the key;
Here the empire of the earth
Waits in patience for its birth."

But the Spanish monarch, dimly
Seeing little, answered grimly:
"North and South the land is Spain's;
As God gave it, it remains.
He who seeks to break the tie,
By mine honor, he shall die!"

So the centuries rolled on,
And the gift of great Colon,
Like a spendthrift's heritage,
Dwindled slowly, age by age,
Till the flag of red and gold
Fell from hands unnerved and old
And the granite-pillared gate
Waited still the key of fate.

Who shall hold that magic key
But the child of destiny,
In whose veins has mingled long
All the best blood of the strong?
He who takes his place by grace
Of no single tribe or race,
But by many a rich bequest
From the bravest and the best.
Sentinel of duty, here
Must he guard a hemisphere.

Let the old world keep its ways;
Naught to him its blame or praise;
Naught its greed, or hate, or fear;
For all swords be sheathed here.

Yea, the gateway shall be free
Unto all, from sea to sea;
And no fratricidal slaughter
Shall defile its sacred water;
But -- the hand that ope'd the gate shall forever hold the key!





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