Lines Written After Seeing the Falls of Niagara by Henry G. Dalton

Horseshoe Falls and Table Rock, 1846. by Hanry Samuel Davis. Colour tint by Erna Jahnke
Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Wonder of earth! I stand upon thy shore,
‡‡And, spirit-awed, behold thy em’rald wave;
I see thy rapids foam, and hear them roar,—
‡‡As frenzied, like the whirpool, waters rave,
‡‡‡‡Or wildly rush in reckless flight,
‡‡‡‡Far onward, gathering giant might,
‡‡‡‡And boldly leap thy rocky height,

Hath eye of mortal seen in other clime
‡‡Such sight as greets his view from Table Rock,
While on the rent and rugged edge sublime,
‡‡Entranced he witnesses the torrent’s shock?
‡‡‡‡Like peals of thunder rolling round,
‡‡‡‡Or cannon booming on the ground,
‡‡‡‡Such is thy overwhelming sound,

Millions of eyes have rested on thy wave,
‡‡Millions of hearts have throbb’d at thy dread sound;
Those millions now are mould’ring in the grave,—
‡‡Not e’en thy voice can break their sleep profound
‡‡‡‡And still thy waters downward dash,
‡‡‡‡And still thy ocean torrents splash,
‡‡‡‡Thy clouds of spray in sunlight flash,

The lonely Indian started at the sight,
‡‡When ages since he view’d thy rapid stream;
Chas’d is that Indian by the hand of might,
‡‡And his dark hist’ry seems but like a dream;
‡‡‡‡Now, here another people trace
‡‡‡‡What mortal hand cannot erase,
‡‡‡‡But thou defiest man’s vain race,

Kingdoms and nations have appeared and gone,
‡‡Thrones, people, empires, dynasties and all,
Yet still thou rollest on untired, alone,
‡‡And see’st the greatest like the meanest fall;
‡‡‡‡Forests have grown, and are no more,
‡‡‡‡Or wither’d lie beside thy shore,
‡‡‡‡But thou art changeless as before,

Beside thee giant works have worn away,
‡‡Their fragments disappear’d like grains of sand;
Beside thee all the things of life decay,
‡‡Yet still thou marchest over rock and land;
‡‡‡‡Ages with thee are but an hour,
‡‡‡‡Their ravages increase thy pow’r,
‡‡‡‡Eternity appears thy dow’r,

Flow on! flow on! thou mightiest of things;
‡‡On thee some lofty mission is impressed;
To me the voice of God in echo rings
‡‡From out thy tempest roar and foaming crest.
‡‡‡‡Oh! is it wrath or is it peace,
‡‡‡‡Our fears to waken or appease?
‡‡‡‡None, none shall know till time doth cease,

But when this world, and all its wonders dread,
‡‡Shall be destroyed by the same hand that made,
Thou, too, wilt be enrolled among the dead,
‡‡And thy hoarse torrent be for ever stay’d;
‡‡‡‡When man receives the doom divine,
‡‡‡‡And sun and stars have ceased to shine,
‡‡‡‡Annihilation will be thine,

Source:  Henry G. Dalton.  Tropical Lays and Other Poems.  London: J. Evans, 1853.

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