‘T WAS evening, and Niagara’s tide
‡‡Like giant serpent crawling,
Its varnished skin, in moonbeams dyed,
‡‡With hissing voice was calling,
Upon the cataract below,
‡‡Which hoarsely was replying.
E’en thus when fiery rivers flow
Along the sky, and with their glow,
The black couch of the thunderer show,
‡‡We hear his stern voice crying.
It was a night of loveliness,
‡‡A white cloud had been veiling
The moon, but now, with silvery dress
‡‡Athwart the sky was sailing ; —
The bright eyed sentinels that stand,
‡‡Upon the walls of Heaven,
In glittering robes, a radiant band,
With myriad wings the forest fanned,
Whose branches whispered of a land,
‡‡Where endless joys are given
It was a night of loveliness,
‡‡A shallop, old reclining
Beside the shore, seemed in distress,
‡‡Neglected and repining ;
Upon her thwart I set me down,
‡‡And watched the gliding water,
That sparkled like a Monarch’s crown,
And clustered trees, whose shadows brown,
Lay on the landscape, like a frown
‡‡On cheek of beauty’s daughter.
Before me soon, a vision rose,
‡‡An Eden landscape glowing,
Like that which some magician shows,
‡‡All red with roses blowing ;
Where flashing like a sunbeam swift,
‡‡Bright rainbow-tinted wings did quiver,
But soon the fairy-land did drift
Like cloud away, the scene did shift,
I woke, and found myself adrift
‡‡Upon the rushing river !
Oarless, adown the current went
‡‡That boat and I together,
As from their boughs red leaves are rent,
‡‡In Autumn’s stormy weather !
Now in some whirling eddy borne,
‡‡Now bending tree-tops under,
And all the time from silver throne,
As if in mockery, on me shone
The Queen of Night — and solemn — lone,
‡‡Arose the cataract’s thunder !
Down, down we flew ! — no help was near,
‡‡Dark clouds came o’er the water,
As the black wings of Death appear
‡‡O’er crimsoned field of slaughter !
I thought upon my early doom,
‡‡Of hopes once brightly glowing
The golden skies now hid in gloom,
And still the cataract’s solemn boom,
Came like a message from the tomb —
‡‡” To Spirit-Land thou’rt going ! ”
O how the scenes of early days,
‡‡With Memory’s wings, came round me !
It seemed as if some gentle Fays
‡‡In dreamy spell had bound me.
Fond ones were by my side once more,
‡‡Their eyes with kindness beaming,
And ‘ mong them her who ever wore
For me a smile. The cataract’s roar,
Grew louder — but on island shore
‡‡I saw a beacon streaming.
My boat drew near that rocky isle,
‡‡Which for a moment caught her ;
That rugged island still doth smile
‡‡Amid the boiling water ;
For, on its crags, with nimble feet,
‡‡Like frighten’d deer I darted,
While downward, on its course so fleet,
As porpoises at sea retreat
Toward the storm — so Death to greet,
‡‡That boat flew as we parted.
Source: E. Curtiss Hine. The Haunted Barque, and Other Poems. Auburn, NY: J.C. Derby & Co., 1848
In the preface Hine wrote: “Most of the following Poems were composed at sea, while the Author was attached to an American Frigate cruising in the Pacific Ocean, to while away the tedious hours — the monotony and ennui of a life on board a ship of war.”