Niagara by C. E. Whiton-Stone

Portrait of Cara Elizabeth Whiton-Stone
Gift inscription by Cara Elizabeth Whiton-Stone

What wild convulsion in the ages past
Shook thee to such immeasurable unrest,
Oh, mad Niagara?     Did the huge crest
Of some black mountain, splintered by a blast
From Heaven down-bolted, leave these fissures vast
Whence rush thy waters?     Or was ocean pressed
From its storm-beaten shores, to dash thy breast
And hurl out rage from thee, while Time shall last?
          Rage on, imperial mystery, that thou art;
          Chance, in the azoic age, with wonders rife,
          At mandate of the gods, from out earth’s heart,
          In embryo doomed to everlasting strife,
          Thou sprang’st defiant, thundering to thy part,
          Magnificent and terrible, as Life.

Rage on, for giant raging thou may’st show,
Through veins that interlace the land, thy power,
And with thy foaming passion, bring to flower
The genius of man; may’st writhing go
Like a colossal serpent, to and fro,
Winding through ribs of steel that massive tower,
And so imprisoned, strike the zenith hour
When science shall supremest secret know:
          I liken thee to soul wherein is pent
          Divinest madness, that song surging keeps,
          Till by unconquerable forces rent,
          To mighty music it majestic sweeps.
          As the great Odyssey blind Homer sent
          Crashing sublimely down eternal steeps.

Source: Myron T. Pritchard, comp. Poetry of Niagara. Boston: Lothrop Publishing Co., 1901.

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