The Niagara Fall by William Ellery Channing

‘Tis the boom of the fall with a heavy pour,
Solemn and slow as a thunder cloud,
Majestic as the vast oceans roar,
Through the green trees round its singing crowd;
And the light is as green as the emerald grass,
Or the wide-leaved plants in the wet morass.

It sounds over all, and the rushing storms
Cannot wrinkle its temples, or wave its hair.
It dwells alone in the pride of its form,
A lonely thing in the populous air.
From the hanging cliffs it whirls away,
All seasons through, all the livelong day.

Source: Myron T. Pritchard, comp. Poetry of Niagara. Boston: Lothrup Publishing Co., 1901.
Originally published in his Poems, 1843

Signor Farini by Ian Bell

“The Great Farini” walking on his tightrope, 1860

High overhead at the peak of the barn,
A ragged tin rooster is raising the dawn;
Along with the creature of curious grace,
Who takes his position and rests in his place,
And then with the slightest of smiles on his face,
He raises a foot and steps off into space.

Chorus:

Oh for an ounce of the courage I lack,
Oh for the feel of the wind at my back,
Oh for a tongue to cry passion and fire,
Signor Farini is walking the wire
Farini so high on the wire

The Great Farini walking the tightrope, 1860

Walking on air with the greatest of ease,
A tangle of barn swallows sharing the breeze.
Down from the lightning rod out to the tree,
Quick pirouttes and a bow from the knee.
Don’t breathe a word of the things that you see,
Nobody knows him like you and like me

Chorus

Better to follow the long straight path,
Better to walk than to fly,
This field is too narrow to cut a wide swath,
Better to look to your feet than the sky,
Better look to your feet not the sky
Not the sky.

Up on the wire can you still smell the ground?
High, up so high can you still hear the sound
That comes from the people who all look so small,
Searching the sky with their backs to the wall
Hands in their pockets and necks craned so tall,
Patiently waiting to see if you fall?

Signor Farini stunting on the tightrope at Niagara Falls, 1860

Chorus

Source: Ian Bell and The Dawnbreakers. Signor Farini and Other Adventures, Paris, Ont.: Free Range Recordings, ©2000.

The Dawnbreakers are: Kate Murphy, Brian Pickell, Geoff Somers, with Dave Zdriluk and Anne Lederman

Click here to hear Ian Bell and The Dawnbreakers singing Signor Farini

Click here to contact Ian Bell to purchase the CD Signor Farini and Other Adventures

Images courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library’s Historic Niagara Digital Collections

En Route to Niagara Falls by Bill Cattey

I’ve been to Niagara Falls
For a Gay Science Fiction Convention.
While I was there,
I kissed a guy I’m hot for
In front of the tourists.

Beautiful guy.
Beautiful falls.

On the way there,
Something even better happened.

After making my convention plans,
I got a call.
A friend I had a crush on
Wanted some help
Moving back to town for the summer.

I gladly made the detour
With its promise
Of time together with him
And my hope for a something more.

I drove several hours solo
To the strains of “Court and Spark”
By Joni Mitchell.

The evening of my arrival
The weather was chilly and drizzly.
Please God, warm it up and dry it out.
I want to go to the beautiful gorges
And play with my beautiful friend
Before I leave this place.

The next morning
It was just barely
Warm enough, and dry enough.
We trekked down the trail
Into the beautiful gorge.

No others were there.
So we stripped down
Had our fun
And then drove off.

In retrospect,
We didn’t do all that much.
And I’m not Alan Ginsberg
So I won’t go into details.

After that, whenever I hear
Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark”,
I remember fondly:
My trip to The Falls,
The detour,
The beautiful gorges,
My friend,
And our mischief.

 

Source: Poems of Bill Cattey webpage

Biography of Bill Cattey

25 December 2001

Battle of Lundy’s Lane, 25th July, 1814 by Janet Carnochan

Upon this hill we come to celebrate
That fateful day a century ago,
How saved our heritage with forceful blow
We meet to tell the tale, but not in hate.
We meet their loyal names to consecrate
Who fought and fell, shall we forget?  Oh no,
But high emblaze their names and proudly show
How nobly stood our sires in danger great,
To tell the inspiring tale that so we too
May meet our hill of difficulties well,
For we have problems hard to solve today
And enemies of greed and gold not few.
Heaven grant us grace their forces to repel
And at the call of duty straight obey.

Niagara, 25th July, 1914.

Source: An Account of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, Fought in 1814, Between the British and American Armies From the Best and Most Authorized Sources.   Niagara Falls: Niagara Publishers, 1947.

Niagara by John Campbell, Duke of Argyll

A ceaseless, awful, falling sea, whose sound
Shakes earth and air, and whose resistless stroke
Shoots high the volleying foam like cannon smoke!
How dread and beautiful the floods, when crowned
By moonbeams on their rushing ridge, they bound
Into the darkness and the veiling spray;
Or jewel-hued and rainbow-dyed, when day
Lights the pale torture of the gulf profound!

So poured the avenging streams upon the world
When swung the ark upon the deluge wave,
And oer each precipice in grandeur hurled,
The endless torrents gave mankind a grave.
Gods voice is mighty, on the water loud,
Here, as of old, in thunder, glory, cloud!

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

Originally published: Argyll, Memories of Canada and Scotland, Montreal, 1884.