Niagara (1901 version) by Lydia Huntley Sigourney

sigourney niagara flow

sigourney niagara flow
Lydia Huntley Sigourney


Flow on forever, in thy glorious robe
Of terror and of beauty.   Yea, flow on
Unfathomed and resistless.   God hath set
His rainbow on thy forehead; and the cloud
Mantled around thy feet.   And he doth give
Thy voice of thunder power to speak of Him
Eternally, — bidding the lip of man
Keep silence — and upon thy rocky altar pour
Incense of awe-struck praise.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Ah! who can dare
To lift the insect-trump of earthly hope,
Or love, or sorrow, mid the peal sublime
Of thy tremendous hymn? Even Ocean shrinks
Back from thy brotherhood, and all his waves
Retire abashed.   For he doth sometimes seem
To sleep like a spent labourer, and recall
His wearied billows from their vexing play,
And lull them to a cradle calm; but thou
With everlasting, undecaying tide,
Dost rest not, night or day.   The morning stars,
When first they sang oer young creations birth,
Heard thy deep anthem; and those wrecking fires,
That wait the archangels signal to dissolve
This solid earth, shall find Jehovahs name
Graven, as with a thousand diamond spears
On thine unending volume.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Every leaf,
That lifts itself within thy wide domain,
Doth gather greenness from thy living spray,
Yet tremble at the baptism.   Lo! — yon birds
Do boldly venture near, and bathe their wing
Amid thy mist and foam.   ‘Tis meet for them
To touch thy garments hem, and lightly stir
The snowy leaflets of thy vapour wreath,
For they may sport unharmed amid the cloud,
Or listen at the echoing gate of Heaven,
Without reproof.   But, as for us, it seems
Scarce lawful, with our broken tones, to speak
Familiarly of thee. Methinks, to tint
Thy glorious features with our pencils point,
Or woo thee to the tablet of a song,
Were profanation.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Thou dost make the soul
A wondering witness of thy majesty,
But as it presses with delirious joy
To pierce thy vestibule, dost chain its step,
And tame its rapture with the humbling view
Of its own nothingness, bidding it stand
In the dread presence of the Invisible,
As if to answer to its God through thee.

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

Also in the anthology Niagara Mornings by Andrew C. Porteus, 2016.

Read about Lydia Huntley Sigourney

Read the 1835 version of this poem

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