William Kirby by Fisher Davidson

In old Niagara town, long aisles of ancient trees
Stand sentinel along the storied ways,
Tall, sturdy patriarchs of other days,
Whose busy leaves are ever whispering memories.
And one there was who walked beneath their arching shade:
True, gallant type of Christian gentleman,
He, faithful, passed the full, allotted span
Within this hoary town whose cause his own he made;
And always at his side there moved a shadowy throng:
Simcoe and Brock and noble Addison,
All who with axe and plough and sword and gun,
Laid firm its deep foundations that have lasted long,
All who, sojourning in this place, did love it well.
He was like to the Roman Livy, he
Who loved his town and ever strove to be
Worthy its great traditions and its annals tell.
So let his country keep his memory one pure sheen,
And bring him, there beside the ivied wall,
Beneath still other forest-veterans tall,
French whites and English roses, ‘twined with Maple green.

Source: E.J. Pratt, (ed). Canadian Poetry Magazine. vol. 6, no. 1, December 1941.

Sons of Adam by Patricia Borneman Dagle

Sons of Adam, watch!

Thundering clouds
over the roar of a thousand nights
smashing water
spilling mist on ancient rocks.

Tremors beget the moving form
created to carry men in God’s direction
yet,

Sons of Adam, Listen!

Building the Tower of Babel
dumb in spirit
yet brilliant in designing
a god to themselves

In the midst of futile human endeavor
stands a mighty warrior,
an ancient ghost
“Onguirahra! Noss oossima!”
tall, courageous
believing in a power
greater than that
which was created

Sons of Adam, look!

On mighty rushing wings
He raises his spear
and with one fell swoop
brings down
the concrete rocks.

and the river rises up
to greet Him
moving faithfully forward
with the thundering power of the falls.

Peace is restored
and a tree planted by the river
reaches its roots out
and grows among men’s ashes.

while the warrior
rests beneath its shade.
And is refreshed
in the cool depths
of Onguirahra!

 

Source: The author, July 8, 2001.

Visit of the Prince of Wales to Laura Secord by Sarah Anne Curzon

(Chippawa, 1860)

Edward, Prince of Wales & party photographed at Niagara Falls by Platt Babbitt, 1860.

Now wherefore trembles still the string
By lyric fingers crossed,
To Laura Secords praise and fame,
When forty years are lost?

Nay, five and forty, one by one,
Have Borne her from the day
When, fired with patriotic zeal,
She trod her lonely way.

Her hair is white, her step is slow,
Why kindles then her eye,
And rings her voice with music sweet
Of many a year gone by?

O know ye not proud Canada,
With joyful heart, enfolds
In fond embrace the royal boy
Whose line her fealty holds?

For him she spreads her choicest cheer,
And tells her happiest tale,
And leads him to her loveliest haunts,
That naught to please may fail.

And great art thou, O Chippawa,
Though small in neighbours eyes,
When out Niagaras haze thou seest
A cavalcade arise;

And in its midst the royal boy
Who, smiling, comes to see
An ancient dame whose ancient fame
Shines in our history.

He takes the thin and faded hand,
He seats him at her side,
Of all that gay and noble band
That moment well the pride.

To him the aged Secord tells,
With many a fervid glow,
How, by her means, Fitzgibbon struck
His great historic blow.

Nor deem it ye, as many do,
A weak and idle thing
That at that moment Laura loved
The praises of a king;

And dwelt on his approving smile,
And kissed his royal hand,
Who represented, and should wield,
The sceptre of our land;

For where should greatness fire her torch
If not at greatness shrine?
And whence should approbation come
Did not the gods incline?

Source: McCabe, Kevin, ed. The Poetry of Old Niagara. St. Catharines, Ont. : Blarney Stone Books, 1999.

Originally published in T.H. Rand, ed. A Treasury of Canadian Verse. 1900.

Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library’s Historic Niagara Digital Collections

 

The Brittle Branch by Philip J. Curtis

She walks alone this night,
No longer fearing nocturnal birds.
Superficial days and existential nights,
Too many Form 4s for her flights.

The sun rising,
The moon just right,
The tourist season
Not over quite,
The way she
Might have planned it.
Finally, a bath of mind,
Her turn in line,
PCBs and feces too,
This time.

Didn’t complain,
They said there wasn’t
Another way.
Desiring one
With the icy art,
Best she could do,
Was an unfelt lark,
Trapped in the immensity
Of the existential trinity:
Cold flowing steel,
Bold turbine wheel,
No-essence meal.

But she’ll be content
With the stability
Of her new-found therapy,
The last Valhalla,
Where strange attractors
Lose bifurcations
And computers crash,
Drowned by an unknown fist
Of greatest mist,
Returning to the place
Of phase space none,
Not surviving her space
Of haze, race, nun.

It was cold,
And the icy creatures
Mocked a fractal joy,
The roar and poise
Of the secular trinity
Seemed a little hungry.

Many more like her
Have visited
The brittle branch,
Cat-like in Winter
Star and sun,
Alive and dead
In Schrödinger fun.

Broken frozen figurines,
Fallen from their shelves,
Drowned in the mist
Of a melancholy twist,
Bouncing cry-eyed
Into the rocky tub,
Bouncing wide-eyed
To the bottom’s hub.
So cold a tumbling,
To the sea.

Like her, the bloody bobs
Counting tourists’ ticks,
‘round and ‘round
The rocky tub,
Click, click,
Are not on the screen;
For the Trinkers
And Shrinkers,
Pulp Pushers and Rhinos
Have made their deal for steel,
No one to know
Lost dot bobs for real;
Measuring success
By the number of
Polymorphs of nymphs and dwarfs
Still on the screen.

Those who knew her
Have lost her,
And have poured
Their own eternal mist.
The rest will be leaving soon,
For the latest seller,
Or the signs of the moon.
Please get ready,
We’ll all need a room soon.

Until the parameters are tweaked,
And the densities just right,
Multicoloured and bright,
We won’t hear the Humanist drummer tonight.
Until the old texts
Have seen the young forced players’
Superficial smile
For existential layers,
Thousands more birds
May fall a long mile.

Good-bye our friend,
Thank you for singing
So bittersweet;
You may have saved
Someone on the street.
But for now and for you,
The Trinkers and Shrinkers,
Pulp Pushers and Rhinos,
Have lost a friend too.

With humility and hope,
Perhaps ten score hence,
The Witch may catch the bypass,
And the cash may catch the pitch;
Flooding virgin tears
Into all our ears.
But waiting for the song
To sign cast-laden legs,
We weep weed-laden heads.

Philip J. Curtis, Ó August, 2001

Source: The author, August 2001.

Niagara, Seen on a Night in November by Adelaide Crapsey

Adelaide Crapsey – early 1900s

How frail
Above the bulk
Of crashing water hangs,
Autumnal, evanescent, wan,
The moon.

 

 

Source: Adelaide Crapsey. Verse. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1922.

About Adelaide Crapsey