Niagara in Winter by Edward F. Garesché, S.J.


Fr. Edward F Garesché, S.J.

O THOU great priest of all the nations,  thou
Whose immemorial chanting shakes the sky !
The suns of ages on thy reverend brow
Linger, in glorious life, immortally.

I come again to hear, eternal tone
Of immolated waters, where the leap
Of thy vast splendor makes perpetual moan
And lifts unwearied litanies from the deep.
And lo!
I find thy priestly waters clad in snow,
And where thy choral rapids used to sweep
Surpliced in hills of frost, like acolytes, they sleep.

All rubrical, in white,
Hills, waves and trees are vestured deep with light
As for high splendors of some solemn feast.
The mighty altar of thy hills, aglow
With ceremonial show,
Twinkles with mimic suns;   thy tapers bright
Astound the reverent sight,
And wistful, sedulous clouds of swirling mist
Have never ceased
To hang the shivering trees, by sunbeams kissed,
With wonderful bright robes and baldachins of fleece.

O the vast arc of that white altar, glowing
With crystal columns of thy frozen streams,
Gigantic pillars, halted in their flowing,
Lucent with lightenings of marmoreal gleams,
Their flutings vaster than old Egypt’s glory,
Chiseled to fretted arabesques of frost,  —
In the white windings of that splendor hoary
The wildered sunbeams wander and are lost.

Ah, bleak and beautiful, and clear
With more than earthly glitterings of delight,
Thine ice-built altar here
Quivers with marvels of celestial light,
With wild and tremulous mist,
And streaming clouds of glory from its height.

Niagara Falls Illuminated, Winter, 1925

Around, in robes of state,
The reverential forests stand,
With their deep, paradisal fruitings hoar.
Obsequious they wait
While, chanting low, the waters deck them more,
Strewing their crystal splendors on the land,
Weaving the woods with many a strange device
With snowy hands and crackling stays of ice,
Until amazing glories flash and flow
Where the white forests glow,
And all the common world is covered under
With hills of spendor and with vales of wonder !

The vaporous incense of thy restless wave
Is whirled in clouds of glory, freezing far,
On every jutting crag the restless play
Of thy swift, eager water piles away
A heap of gelid foam.   The furious war
Of freezing torrents, teased to flinging spray,
Hath left thy stones as lovely as a star.
Where the pale stretches of thine ice fields are,
Hark, the trapped surges impotently rave,
Roar furious, prisoned in their icy cave.

And still
The steadfast waters keep their constant will
On pouring towards the brink of their desire.
The sacrificial torrent whelmed and lost
In wonderful, deep frost,
Leaps onward with its immemorial fire.
With all its ancient joy and all its fear
The liquid litany of the waves I hear,
And echo through the white, impassive walls
The solemn verberations of the falls.

No fetters of imperious cold
This sacrificial surge can stay
From the wild winter’s freezing hold
The eager torrent leaps away,
And through the far-flung ice resistless poured
The ever valiant wave, to win its way,
Shakes the white lightenings of its silver sword!

Source:  The Catholic World, vol 110, January 1920, p 496-497


A Niagara Landscape by Archibald Lampman


Stamp honouring Archibald Lampman, issued July 7, 1989

Heavy with haze that merges and melts free
‡‡Into the measureless depth on either hand,
‡‡The full day rests upon the luminous land
In one long noon of golden reverie.
Now hath the harvest come and gone with glee.
‡‡The shaven fields stretch smooth and clean away,
‡‡Purple and green, and yellow, and soft gray,
Chequered with orchards.    Father still I see
Towns and dim villages, whose roof-tops fill
‡‡The distant mist, yet scarcely catch the view.
Thorold set sultry on its plateau’d hill,
‡‡And far to westward, where yon pointed towers
Rise faint and ruddy from the vaporous blue,
‡‡Saint Catharines, city of the host of flowers.


Source:  Lampman, Archibald. (ed. & with a memoir by Duncan Campbell Scott)  The Poems of Archibald Lampman.  Toronto; George N. Morang & Co., 1900.

The Lampman family homestead, originally known as Mountain Point, became the present day Woodland Conservation Area.

The Hermit of Niagara by Professor James A. Martling


Francis Abbott Drowning in Niagara River. From Osgoode Bradbury, Francis Abbott; or, The Hermit of Niagara: A Tale of the Old and New World.  1846

“Though in thy veil of mist thou hid’st from me,
‡‡Thy glistening footsteps have I hither tracked :
Here on this rock I sit and wait for thee —
‡‡Thee love, thou Spirit of the Cataract.
O list again my tale of constancy !

“I’ve dreamed of thee since boyhood.   I have thought
‡‡Of thee at midnight, when beneath the stars
The whole earth slept, and thou hast been inwrought
‡‡Into my daytime reveries on the cloudy cars
Which sailed the sky with happy breezes fraught.

“And I have heard thy voice come calling me
‡‡When underneath the rustling beech I lay,
And watched the wave that to the terraced knee
‡‡Of the green hill leaped, hound-like, then away
Along the sands went gambolling toward thee.

“And I have thought that all things sought for thee ;
‡‡For thee the Sun climbed up the eastern shore,
Fresh bathed from the Atlantic’s purity,
‡‡And weaved thee rainbow garlands, and threw o’er
Thy form, of sheen and gold a gorgeous drapery.

“I have not sought the circles of the gay,
‡‡Where wanton beauty half unveiled is whirled
In the mad dance, by passionate youths that pay
‡‡Their amorous glances ; nor to breasts impearled
Nor all their wealth of charms are eyes forbid to stray.

“Nor could halls of learning, — nor the stage
‡‡Rich with enchantment, where the poet’s soul
Hath shed its affluence, — nor the voice of sage
‡‡Dewy with scripture, weaken thy control,
Nor me from my devotion disengage.

“Nor love, nor wine, nor song, nor power, nor gold
‡‡Nor the sweet glimpses of domestic bliss
That wooed me oft !   No, thy caresses cold
‡‡And pure embraces, and the frequent kiss
That falls like rain, dearer than all I hold !

“Thou hast all power, all passion in thyself
‡‡Thou Spirit of the Cataract, and I gaze
Where leap the waters from their rocky shelf
‡‡Down the abyss to thee with no amaze,
For thy charms lure sea-sprite and mountain-elf.

“The spirits of the mountain peaks, that keep
‡‡The hidden treasures of the mighty west,
Steal down the moonlit rivulets to peep
‡‡Upon the beauty of thy snowy breast
Unveiled amid the tossings of thy sleep.

“The spirits that collect the dews, and fill
‡‡The broad lakes, fill them for my love alone,
Their purity but equals thine : distil
‡‡The stars on thee their light, and o’er thy throne
Scatter the radiance of their holy bill.

“No more delay, my destiny divine,
‡‡But give the token of my speedy bliss :
I know my life shall be drawn into thine
‡‡Even as my whole heart already is :
And yet I wait the anticipated sign.

“Three happy yet three weary months have seen
‡‡Me waiting in my strange novitiate,
O love, thou knowest how constant I have been
‡‡Watching and waiting at the diamond gate
That flashes me and my pure love between.

“She comes !   She comes !   I see the radiant star
‡‡Upon her brow — the glory of her face !
She comes !   She comes !   she lifts the silver bar !
O love, in thine my arms I interlace,
And we forever more united are !”

Source: Professor James Abraham Martling. Poems of Home and Country. Boston: James H. Earle, Publisher, 1885

Untitled by Joseph John Gurney


Joseph John Gurney Figurine by Staffordshire Pottery

Six hundred twenty thousand tuns, each minute, is the measure,
That fills thy giant bowl for us with wonder, awe, and pleasure ;
Niagara the great, the free, old Erie’s swift discharger,
The billowy breast that banished thee, but sends thee to a larger.
Ontario bids a welcome to thy foaming, gushing waters,
That freshly fill her yawning caves, and nourish all her daughters.
Sunshine and rain contend for thee, thou plaything of all weathers,
Thy falling flood of glass and pearls breaks into fairest feathers ;
But where the deeper billows roll o’er the centre of thy crescent,
Thy vest is of liquid emerald, with native snows florescent.
Thy stream below is a floating field of winter’s purest whiteness,
Till it melts away into green and grey, rejoicing in its brightness.
Clouds of thy own creation rise, in wild array, around thee,
And in her zone of magic hues, the radiant bow hath bound thee.
Farewell, flow on — in bygone worlds thy veteran locks were hoary,
And forests wild, untrod by man, have sung thine ancient glory.
A meaner muse of modern days, now ventures to admire thee,
Her music thou may’st well despise — thy own shall never tire thee.

Source: Joseph John Gurney. A Journey in North America, Described in Familiar Letters to Amelia Opie. Norwich: Printed for Private Circulation, 1841. p. 320

Included in the anthology:  Charles Mason Dow. Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls. Albany: State of New York, 1921

The Genius of Niagara by John Chase Lord


John Chase Lord

Proud demon of the waters — thou
‡‡Around whose stern and stormy brow
Circles the rainbow’s varied gem —
‡‡The Vapor Spirit’s diadem —
While rushing headlong at they feet,
The everlasting thunders meet.

Throned on the mists, around thy form
‡‡Is dashing an eternal storm,
Whose ceaseless, changeless earthquake shock
‡‡The tempests of old Ocean mock.
And the dark Sea-King yields to thee,
The meed of might and majesty.

Depth, Sound, Immensity have lent
‡‡Their terrors to thy element;
Thy congregated waters yell
‡‡Down caverns fathomless as Hell,
While in Heaven’s glorious hues are set
About thy gorgeous coronet.

Titanic winter strives in vain
‡‡To bind thee in his icy chain,
Which rent by thy resistless wave
‡‡Finds in thy fearful depths — a grave;
Or the torn fragments glistening lie
In the glare of thy kingly eye.

A silvery web among thy trees
‡‡Unruffled by the passing breeze
The vanquished Ice-King for thee weaves,
‡‡And gives them gems for winter leaves,
And rears thee columns, bright and vast,
Their radiance through thy halls to cast.

The giant Time hath never yet
‡‡His footsteps in thy waters set:
Grimly passing thy fall, he tries
‡‡To notch his by-gone centuries
Along the dark and devious track
Of they rock-crashing Cataract.

Emblem of Power —  the mighty Sun
‡‡Hath found and left thee roaring on,
Thou wert with Chaos, e’re his light
‡‡Shone out upon the starless night,
Sole relic of that awful day
When all in wild confusion lay.

And when Air, Earth, and Sea and Sky
‡‡Formless again together lie,
When judgement fires are kindling o’er
‡‡Old Nature’s wreck — Niagara’s roar,
First echo in the ear of Time,
Shall sing his requiem sublime.

Source: John Chase Lord. Occasional Poems. Buffalo: Breed and Lent, 1869

Also published in Dow, Charles Mason.  Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls. Albany: State of New York, 1921