To a Flower by Alexander Wellington Crawford

(Found Some Years Ago at the Foot of Goat Island, Niagara)
To a Flower
Horseshoe Fall and Goat Island Seen from Table Rock by James Hope-Wallace. Courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library

I turned aside to pluck thee, sweetest flower,
From thy low bed, where, almost hid from sight,
Thou lay’st besieged by rocks, whose giant power
Was broken ere they reached thee with their might.

Thou grewest there, so tiny and alone,
Among the rocks that formed thy hardened bed;
And yet thou seem’st no sadness to have known,
For heaven’s blue had crowned thy tender head.

Thou wast the only flower that I could see —
The place around was ruinously bare;
And yet thou grewest there contentedly,
Although thou livedst on but rocky fare.

Thou only heardst the cataract’s fierce roar —
The torrents never reached thy rocky bed;
So thou wast safe, though near where fierce floods pour;
The spray but dashed upon thy bending head.

I found thee with thy sweetness hid away,
Far from my path upon the rocks beneath;
I clambered down to claim without delay
Thy slender beauty and thy fragrant breath.

Thou hast for me the tenderest memory,
For him, who was my comrade in those days;
Scarce can I meet until eternity,
When God brings him from India’s burning rays.

I hold thee as a treasure to my heart —
Thy life was so much like my own poor life;
For I, like thee, alone must do my part,
And stand unaided amidst rocks of strife.

And, like thee, may I pass my feeble day,
And never know the torrent’s deadly force;
But may just feel the invigorating spray,
And bless some traveller in his earthly course.

Source: Kevin McCabe, ed. The Poetry of Old Niagara. St. Catharines, Ont. : Blarney Stone Books, 1999.

Originally published in Crawford’s Poems of Yesterday  Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1924

The Cataract Isle by Christopher Pearse Cranch

The Emerald Isle by Christopher Pearse Cranch
Christopher Pearse Cranch
I wandered through the ancient wood
    That crowns the cataract isle.
I heard the roaring of the flood
    And saw its wild, fierce smile.

Through tall tree-tops the sunshine flecked
    The huge trunks and the ground;
And the pomp of fullest summer decked
    The island all around.

And winding paths led all along
    Where friends and lovers strayed;
And voices rose with laugh and song
    From sheltered nooks of shade.

Through opening forest vistas whirled
    The rapids’ foamy flash,
As they boiled along and plunged and swirled,
    And neared the last long dash.

I crept to the island’s outer verge,
    Where the grand, broad river fell —
Fell sheer down mid foam and surge,
    In a white and blinding hell!

The steady rainbow gayly shone
    Above the precipice;
And a deep, low tone of a thunder-groan
    Rolled up from the drear abyss.

And all the day sprang up the spray,
    Where the broad, white sheets were poured,
And fell around in showery play,
    And upward curled and soared.

And all the night those sheets of white
    Gleamed through the spectral mist,
When o’er the isle the broad moonlight
    The wintry foam-flakes kissed.

Mirrored within thy dreamy thought,
    I see it, feel it all
That island with sweet visions fraught,
    That awful waterfall.

With sun-flecked trees, and birds, and flowers,
    The Isle of Life is fair:
But one deep voice thrills through its hours,
    One spectral form is there!

A power no mortal can resist,
    Rolling forever on —
A floating cloud, a shadowy mist,
    Eternal undertone!

And through the sunny vistas gleam
    The fate, the solemn smile;
Life is Niagara’s rushing stream,
    Its dreams — that peaceful isle!

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

Previously published in R. L. Johnson. Niagara: Its History, Incidents and Poetry Washington: W. Neale, 1898

Goat Island – Thomas Gold Appleton

Thomas Gold Appleton

Goat Island

Peace and perpetual quiet are around,
Upon the erect and dusky file of stems,
Sustaining yon far roof, expelling sound,
Through which the sky sparkles (a rain of gems
Lost in the forest’s depth of shade), the sun
At times doth shoot an arrow of pure gold,
Flecking majestic trunks with hues of dun,
Veining their barks with silver, and betraying
Secret initials tied in true love knots;
Of hearts no longer through green alleys straying,
But stifled in the world’s distasteful grots.
The silence in monastic, save in spots
Where heaves a glimmer of uncertain light,
And rich wild tones enchant the woodland night.

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