Niagara by Edith Wyatt

wyatt

wyatt
Panoramic view of Niagara Falls from Canadian side of river showing both American and Horseshoe Falls, 1913. Photo by Francis King. Courtesy of Library of Congress

(a nature poem)

Cool the crystal mist is falling where my song is calling, calling
‡‡Over highland, over lowland, fog-blown bluff and bouldered shore:
Proud my snow-rapt currents leaping from Superior’s green keeping.
‡‡Down from Michigan’s gray sweeping toward the Rapid’s eddied floor.

Rain, hail, dew and storm-cloud swing me; from the heights the hollows wring me;
‡‡Filtered clay and field silt bring me silent through the dark-breathed loam,
Down the thousand-terraced highlands till the skyland lake-beds wing me —
‡‡Flying down and down in beauty through the chasm’s flocking foam.

Down from Huron, down from Erie, tho the wild duck’s wing grow weary,
‡‡Tribe and nation part and vanish like the spin-drift haze of morn,
Fresh my full-fold song is falling and my voice is calling, calling
‡‡Down from far-poured lake and highland as I sang when I was born.

South, North, East and West untiring speak my brother seas in splendor,
‡‡Tell their dominant, desiring, claimant over coast and main,
Mine the choiring of a woman’s chord immortal, of surrender —
‡‡Of the splendor of desiring, deep to give and give again.

Chord of star-fused loam and silver-surgent lake cloud’s generation,
‡‡Here I sing the earth’s still dreaming down my green-poured currents’ length,
Voice of river-rocking valleys, rich heart plains and heights’ creation,
‡‡Clear-veiled chord that locked in your mother’s life, your father’s strength.

Cool the fog-flocked mists are swinging. Soar, my dream; and silver winging,
‡‡Call my air-hung music ringing, toward the crystal-buoyed morn —
Full-fold music from the highlands, where my splendor’s voice is singing,
‡‡Fresh from flooded shores and skylands as I sang when I was born.

Source:  Literary Digest, September 27, 1913 p. 544

Originally published in Collier’s Weekly

Hymn of Niagara by Thomas Hill, D.D.

hymn

hymn
The Falls of Niagara From the Canadian Side, 1868. Painted by B. Hess. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Here I stand ! here from the flood, raving unceasingly,
Hoarse, shrill murmurs arise; shrill as the wind, when it
‡‡‡‡Roars through the trees stripped of their foliage,
‡‡‡‡Singing its wild anthem of liberty.

With these come to the ear, ever at intervals,
Quick notes, rattling and sharp; like the artillery
‡‡‡‡Heard when a storm, driving up rapidly,
‡‡‡‡Crashes the oaks down with its thunderbolts.

Now rise, muffled in mist, rolling up heavily,
Deep tones, awfully grand, shaking the earth, as they
‡‡‡‡Swell like the low bass of the thunder-storm,
‡‡‡‡Heard by the strained ear of the listener.

Thus float over the mist ever in harmony
Three tones, joyous and free, forming Niagara’s
‡‡‡‡Anthem of praise, new every moment, yet
‡‡‡‡Changeless as time, old as eternity.

Source:  Putnam’s Magazine, May 1868, p.538

To the American Fall at Niagara by Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen

sladen

sladen
Douglas Sladen. Courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

Niagara, national emblem !  Cataract
‡‡Born of the maddened rapids, sweeping down
‡‡Direct, resistless from the abyss’s crown
Into the deep, fierce pool with vast impact
Scarce broken by the giant boulders, stacked
‡‡To meet thine onslaught, threatening to drown
‡‡Each tillaged plain, each level-loving town
‘Twixt thee and ocean.   Lo ! the type exact !

America Niagarized the world.
‡‡Europe, a hundred years agone, beheld
An avalanche, like pent-up Erie, hurled
‡‡Through barriers, to which the rocks of eld
Seemed toy things— leaping into godlike space.
A sign and wonder to the human race.

October 18, 1889

Source: Douglas Sladen, ed. Younger American Poets, 1830 – 1890. London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden and Welsh, 1891

The Niagara Scow by Amanda Tulk

scow

scow
Scow Rescue in Niagara River – Gustav F Lofberg being pulled to safety by breeches buoy. Courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library. August 7, 1918

Now it sits a pile of unstable rust
Amongst the falls
And their murderous rush
Two men on a routine trip
A few hours later Red Hill screaming
Dont lose your grip
A split second decision
Could have ended their lives
Lucky to make it home to their wives
One man risked it all
He figured as long as he tried
There was no fault
The unstable scow
Hung by a tree
Attached by a weak buckle
Inching the rope to answer the mens pleas
With each breath taking stride
Praying not to end it all
With a wavy ride
One man hooked and back on shore
Clipped to the rope
He goes back for one more
To this day
The scow sits, where waves strive
Two men, forever grateful
To be able to enjoy their lives

Source: Tulk, Amanda.  Can You Hear It? : Poetry by Amanda Tulk.  Niagara Falls, Ont. : Grey Borders Books, 2013

Click here to see a newspaper article about the scow rescue

The Screaming Tunnels by Amanda Tulk

screaming

screaming
The Screaming Tunnel. Photo by Cathy Simpson. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Legend says her clothes were burning bright
As she ran in the flames into the ebony night
Screaming for the heat to subside
Awakening the neighbors they couldn’t believe their eyes
For that scared little girl, years later they did cry
Many years later
The screams still heard
Some say the legend is absurd
Legend has it
When you strike a match
Blood drips from the walls
Her screams and cries from the darkness they hatch
The terror and shrill in the memories of her blazing voice
To go down there for the experience is your own critical choice

Source: Tulk, Amanda.  Can You Hear It? : Poetry by Amanda Tulk.  Niagara Falls, Ont. : Grey Borders Books, 2013

Click here to see a newspaper article about the Screaming Tunnel