Niagara by J.N. M’Jilton

mcjilton
Rev. John Nelson McJilton
From a portrait provided to the Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore by Thomas F. Upson, a great-great-grandson of McJilton

Roll on resistless flood ; in mystery roll
The restless waters from thy lofty brow ;
No earthly arm the billows may control
That play upon thy summit ; there they bow,
And battle with the winds that through them plow,
Till from thy mountain forehead, down they pour ;
And as in centuries past, so they are now,
The firm base shaking of thy rocky shore,
And drowning echo in the eternal roar ;
Nor may the tempest shout as loud as thou.

Roll everlasting torrent ; on thy front
The Almighty’s signet rests ; the brilliant bow
Belts thy broad bosom yet, as it was wont
To arch it o’er a thousand years ago ; —
Girding the waves to watch them as they flow,
And gathering from the spray, in glorious thrall,
The rays prismatic as they richly glow,
Trembling amid the fires that on them fall,
In fadeless beauty from the sunlit hall,
Where floods of light their deathless radiance throw.

Up from thy emerald shores in beauty still,
A bright memorial of the deed, it springs,
That buried guilty nations at the will
Of Him who rides upon the tempest’s wings ; —
Dread warnings from the mighty past it brings,
And gazing on its splendors, man may feel
The inspiration which around him flings
The past and future ; and the high appeal
Of Revelation, on his heart may steal,
While to the blessed bow his vision clings.

Thou mightiest of waters ; God hath stood
Thee, a stern sentinel on the brow of time,
That as the years, with thy eternal flood,
Pass swiftly onward to the unknown clime,
Thou mightst forever, in thy thunder chime,
Peal their tremendous requiem ; years have rolled
On from the dark and unexplored abyme,
Like thee for centuries; the ages told,
Upon eternal pages are enrolled
With all their deeds of worthiness and crime.

Amid thy restless waters ; many a star.
Hath gazed upon its shadow, and the blue —
The brilliant heaven, hath in thy depths afar,
Bathed its bright countenance and shone anew.
Thou wearest in thy billows every hue,
The changing aether wears; clouds flit o’er thee,
Throwing the gloom or glory now they threw,
When in their anger fierce, or in their glee,
In ages of the past, as fresh as free.
Above thy crown, upon the winds they flew.

The lovely moon hath kissed thee : queen of night,
She rose on dark Ontario, ere day was gone ;
And from her throne of silver, threw her light
Through twilight shadows, on thy waters dun ;
A snowy radiance as her course she run,
Mantled the shores where rippling eddies play,
Like laughing children in the evening’s sun,
Chasing each other in the mimic fray ;
Pale traveller ! she gazed as glad as they,
And moved in peace her lonely journey on.

The sun hath glassed his glories on thy head.
And clad it like his heavens, in robes of gold ;
Among thy hoary locks his beams were shed,
Eternal youth entwining with each fold ; —
With all thy years upon thee, as of old
Thou yet art glowing ; neither age nor time,
Nor the ten thousand changes time has told,
Hath taken from thy brow its morning prime ;
Thy hoary honors are thy crown sublime,
And all thy early freshness thou dost hold.

Winds claim thy wild companionship, and on
Thy surface sport; they with thy dark green waves,
Wrestle but for a moment and are gone.
The tempest walks thy waters, when it raves,
They toss in tumult and expose the caves,
Which in the hour of peace beneath them hide :
And winds like human passions, are the slaves
Of impulse, dashing in their strength and pride ;
And on, in their destructive madness ride,
Regardless that they sweep o’er men or graves.

Storms tremble ‘mid thy terrors ; lightnings throw
Their lurid fires from cloud to cloud on high ;
Deep in thy waves the vivid shadows glow,
Fierce as the flames athwart the angry sky,
That flash and in majestic grandeur fly ;
Upon thy lofty forehead thunders break,
And dreadful whirlwinds dash their dangers by ;
But Nature’s war, thy purpose cannot shake,
The deep Inundations of the earth must quake,
Before thy mountain rocks in ruin lie.

Roll on unrivalled queen of rivers, crowned
By heaven’s immortal King ; thy coronal
The rays that burn his glorious throne around,
And on thy glowing summit richly fall ;
Thy girdle is the light ; its beams enthrall
The throne of pearl, reared on the mount of snow,
That foams above thine own eternal wall
Of rushing waters, where earth’s ocean all
Have trembled into drops and plunged below,
Forever rolling through the rocky hall.


Source: J.N. M’Jilton.  Poems.  Boston: Otis, Broaders & Co., 1840

N.B. The book has his last name as M’Jilton; other sources cite McJilton.

Biography of Rev. John Nelson McJilton from the Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore

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