THE thoughts are strange that crowd into my brain
When I look up to thee. It would seem
As if GOD pour’d thee from his “hollow hand,”
And hung his bow upon thine awful front;
And spoke in that loud voice, which seem’d to him
Who dwelt in Patmos for his Saviour’s sake,
“The sound of many waters;” and had bade
Thy flood to chronicle the ages back,
And notch His cent’ries in the eternal rocks.
Deep calleth unto deep. And what are we,
That hear the question of that voice sublime?
O! what are all the notes that ever rung
From war’s vain trumpet, by thy thundering side!
Yea, what is all the riot that man makes
In his short life, to thy unceasing roar!
And yet, bold babbler, what art thou to HIM
Who drown’d a world, and heap’d the water far
Above its loftiest mountains? — a light wave,
That breaks, and whispers of its Maker’s might
Source: Brainard, John. Poems of John Brainard. Hartford: S. Andrus & Son, 1841
Originally published in the Connecticut Mirror of Hartford, Connecticut
Also in the anthology Fourth Book of Lessons for the Use of Schools. Armour & Ramsey, 1845
Also in the anthology Niagara Mornings by Andrew C. Porteus, 2016.
Also published in Johnson, Richard L. (ed). Niagara: Its History, Incidents and Poetry. Washington: Walter Neale General Book Publisher, 1898. Johnson states that “The editor of “Littell’s Living Age” in 1874 pronounced this the finest poem ever written on the subject, yet, strange to say, Mr. Brainard never saw the great cataract.”
Also published in: Holley, George W., ed. The Falls of Niagara. Baltimore: A.C. Armstrong & Son, 1883
Also published in Pritchard, Myron T. , comp. Poetry of Niagara. Boston: Lothrop Publishing Co., 1901.