Verses Written in the Album Kept at the Table Rock, Niagara Falls, During a Thunder Storm (1850 version) by George Menzies

menzies niagara

menzies niagara
American Falls from Queen Victoria Park (c.1890). Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Niagara, Niagara,
‡‡Careering in its might—
The fierce and free Niagara
‡‡Shall be my theme to-night.

A glorious theme, a glorious hour,
‡‡Niagara, are mine —
Heaven’s fire is on thy flashing wave,
‡‡Its thunder blends with thine.

The clouds are bursting fearfully,
‡‡The rocks beneath me quiver;
But thou, unscathed, art hurrying on
‡‡Forever and forever.

Years touch thee not, Niagara, —
‡‡Thou art a changeless thing;
And still the same deep roundelay
‡‡Thy solemn waters sing.

For years and years upon my heart,
‡‡A sleepless passion dwelt,
To be where Nature’s present God,
‡‡Is most intensely felt.

This is the shrine at which the soul
‡‡Is tutored to forget
The weakness and the earthliness
‡‡That cling around it yet.

Who that ever lingered here
‡‡A little hour or twain,
Can think as he hath thought, or be
‡‡What he hath been again?

Where’er the pilgrim’s feet may roam,
‡‡Whate’er his lot may be,
‘Twill still be written on his heart,
‡‡That he hath been with thee.

Source: George Menzies. The Posthumous Works of the Late George Menzies: Being a Collection of Poems, Sonnets, &c., &c., Written at Various Times When the Author was Connected With the Provincial Press. Woodstock: Printed by John Douglass, 1850

Also published in slightly different form in 1834 in Table Rock Album. View the 1834 version

Biography of George Menzies

Lines Written in the Album of The Table Rock, Niagara Falls by George Menzies

menzies great 

menzies great
The Cascade American Side, Niagara, July 1835, by D.T.E. Colour tint by Jane Merryweather. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Great spirit of the waters!  I have come
From forth mine own indomitable home,
Far o’er the billows of the eternal sea,
To breathe my heart’s deep homage unto thee,
And gaze on glories that might wake to prayer
All but the hopeless victim of despair.
Flood of the forest, fearfully sublime,
Restless, resistless as the tide of time,
There is no type of thee — thou art alone,
In sleepless glory, rushing on and on.
Flood of the desert! thou hast been to me
A dream; and thou art still a mystery.
Would I had seen thee, years and years agone,
While thou wert yet unworshiped and unknown,
And thy fierce torrent, as it rushed along,
Through the wild desert poured its booming song,
Unheard by all save him of lordly mood —
The bronzed and free-born native of the wood.
How would my heart have quivered to its core,
To know its God, not all revealed before!
In other times when I was wont to roam
Around the mist-robed mountain peaks of home
My fancy wandered to this Western clime,
Where all the haunts of nature are sublime;
And thou wert on my dream so dread a thing,
I trembled at my own imagining.
Flood of the forest! I have been with thee,
And still thou art a mystery to me.
Years will roll on as they have rolled, and thou
Wilt speak in thunder as thou speakest now;
And when the name that I inscribe to-day
Upon thine altar shall have passed away
From all remembrance, and the lay I sing
Shall long have been all but a forgotten thing —
Thou wilt be sung, and other hands than mine
Shall wreathe a worthier chaplet for thy shrine.

August 1835.

Source: Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery AdjacentBuffalo: Steam Press of Thomas and Lathrops, copyright by Jewett, Thomas & Co.,1856c.1848

Also published in George Menzies. The Posthumous Works of the Late George Menzies: Being a Collection of Poems, Sonnets, &c., &c., Written at Various Times When the Author was Connected With the Provincial Press. Woodstock: Printed by John Douglass, 1850

Biography of George Menzies

Dave Munday Went Over Niagara Falls Twice in a Barrel—and Lived by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

munday

munday
John “David” Munday being interviewed after going over the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel for the second time, Sept. 27, 1993. Photo by George Bailey. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

The first he knew of danger, he recorded it
all on video. You could see the rush of river
as the barrel bobbed the lip of the gorge.
But during the fall—all you saw
was white, as if the camera was flying
for a moment—then, a black screen. And maybe
that’s what brought him back. The lack of color
did not capture what he heard: a string of viola
at its highest pitch, the tender impossible cry
of a newborn crow. The first I knew of danger,
I ice skated on a pond and found fat goldfish
curling in long, slow patterns Just under
my boot. I knew the ice was thin, but

I continued anyway, the way I did
with several men that year. Each one
was a poor replacement for the one I lost
but each gave me a small gift: a bruised lip,
a cup of Dutch coffee, a tap of ash
on my windowsill. If there was a video
of me that year it would have opened
in a bank of snow, widened to reveal
the pond, the woman skating by herself
in circles. Perhaps there’d be a cardinal, just
a small slash of red on the screen. Everything
else would be white, white, and what
is the color of ice—blue, or is it more white?

Source: Bellingham Review,  Spring 2008, p. 115

Niagara To Its Visitors by H. Lindsay

lindsay

lindsay
Devil’s Hole Rapids, as seen along Great Gorge Route, 1910. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

O ye, who come from distant climes,
To visit me and read my rhymes,
Ere you condemn my noise and vapor,
Read what I have to say on paper.
Through LAKE SUPERIOR, it true is,
I descend from old ST. LOUIS.
I’m a wise child, you see, and rather
Proud to know and own my father.
MICHIGAN nurses me in her lap;
HURON feeds me with SAGINAW pap;
ST. CLAIR then undertakes to teach,
And tries to modulate my speech.
Through ERIE next I guide my stream,
And learn the power and use of steam.
I’m christened next, but losing my humble-
Ness, I get an awkward tumble.
And though musicians all agree,
I pitch my loud outcry on E,
Sure two such tumbles well may vex,
And make me froth up Double X.
Although the rapids rather flurry me,
And into the wheeling whirlpools hurry me,
The Devil’s Hole does most me scare, I oh!
And makes me glad to reach
 ONTARIO.
Traveled so far ‘t is thought of vital
Importance I should change my title;
And though it should be his abhorrence,
They make my sponsor old St. Lawrence.
The course I steer is rather critical,
For, not much liking rows political,
‘Twixt both my favors I divide —
Yankee and British, on each side.
And wandering ‘mongst the “Thousand Isles,”
With equable and constant motion,
I gladly run to meet the ocean.
Once my deep cavern was a mystery,
But now ‘t is known like Tom Thumb’s history,
By ladies, gents, natives and strangers,
Led on by Barnett through my dangers,
And come to try my “cold without;”
While those who like it best can get
A good supply of “heavy wet.”
I fear no money-broker’s pranks —
They’re welcome to run on my banks,
I pay no money nor “mint drop,”
Yet dare them all to make me stop.
I’m proof against malignant shafts;
Am ready still to honor drafts;
Have a large capital afloat,
More current than a U.S. note;
And I can liquidate all debt,
Though much is dew from me; and yet,
About myself I often vapor —
But ne’er before have issued paper.
You may think this a brag or a
Boast of        Truly Yours,         
NIAGARA.

Falls Hall Cave, half past 11, July 25th, 1837.

Source: Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery Adjacent. Buffalo: Steam Press of Thomas and Lathrops, 1856c.1848

See other poems in the Table Rock Album

The Falls of Niagara by E.L.T. Harris-Bickford

harris-bickfordharris-bickford

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Imagination ever kind,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Nursling of the poet’s mind,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Imps her wings, and soars afar
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡To where Niagara’s waters are.
And there, whilst throned on towering steep, *
Beholds its tumbling torrent sweep!

Tremendous, stupendous, romantic, gigantic,
Gymnastic, fantastic, elastic, and plastic,
It splashes, and crashes, and lashing down-dashes,
It rumbles and roars, and plunging it pours,
It rolls and uprises, it swells and surprises,
‡‡It hissingly seethes, and it writhingly wreathes
‡‡‡‡A watery chaplet of feathery foam,
‡‡It flutters, it sputters, it cleaves and it weaves
‡‡‡‡A mystical mantle as on it doth roam:
Ay, onward for ever, and silent-voiced never,
But headlong it rushes, it gurgles, it gushes,
Through years and thro’ ages it riots and rages,
‘Tis as old as the sun, yet its race is not run,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It shimmers, it glimmers,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It baffles all swimmers,
It quivers, it shivers, the grandest of rivers,
Like ship-bearing oceans’ majestical motions,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‘Tis ever resounding,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Rebounding,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Confounding,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‘Tis ever astounding
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The senses of man!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It ever up-leapeth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡O’er-heapeth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡On-keepeth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And swelling o’er-sweepeth
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The rocks sparry span!
Vibrating, gyrating, elating nor ‘bating,
It rideth, collideth, and slideth, and glideth,
And hurleth and whirleth, and purleth, and curleth,
And waileth, and traileth, then raileth, and quaileth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It frowneth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It drowneth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It boundeth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It soundeth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Till tree, crag and rock
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Re-echo the shock,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Till valley and hill
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Give answering shrill,
O’er-powering, o’ertowering, spray-showering and scouring,
It trips, and it slips, and it grips, and it rips,
It muffles, and shuffles, and ruffles, and scuffles,
Portrays, and delays, and dismays whilst it sways,
And spangles, and tangles, and angles, and wrangles,
It beats, and it cheats, and it fleets, and retreats,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Contesting, molesting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Resistless, not resting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Bold breasting, divesting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It bellows along,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Confusing, illusing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Gaunt, fetterless, strong;
On-speeding, unheeding, receding, then leading,
Directing, ejecting, connecting, reflecting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Vivacious, capacious,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Umbrageous, outrageous;
Diversing, immersing, dispersing, coercing,
It flashes, and clashes, and plashes, and gnashes,
It clings, and it rings, and it flings, and it springs,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now purring, then erring,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Here stirring, there whirring;
And wheeling, and reeling, concealing, and healing,
Advancing, enhancing, proud prancing, romancing,
Conniving, and striving, rude riving, and diving,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It follows, and hollows,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And swallows, and wallows,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Exhaling, prevailing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Exerting and spurting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Down-dropping,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡O’er-topping,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Tormenting, indenting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Diffracting, contracting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Diverging, and purging,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And evermore urging;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now alt’ring, then falt’ring,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And veering, and nearing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And clearing, and rearing,
Uniting, delighting, exciting, and fighting,
It teareth, and dareth, and weareth, and flareth,
It racks, and it cracks, and it smacks, and it tacks;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It rustles and bustles
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Tempestuous tustles,
And gambols, and rambles, and ambles, and scrambles
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It lurches and fumbles,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It searches and stumbles,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It slouches and crouches,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It jingles and tingles,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It rifles and trifles,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It ripples and tipples,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It sunders
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡and ranges,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It blunders
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡and changes;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It squashes and quavers,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It washes and wavers,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And whitening it wanders,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And brightening it squanders,
Submerging and surging, then scourging, and purging,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It hits though it splits,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It hops though it drops,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It jumps when it thumps,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It clings when it swings;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It twirls and it twines
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And rainbow-hued shines!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It laves and it turns
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And raving it spurns;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Whilst yawning it yerks,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And fawning it jerks;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It dins and it mars,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It spins and it jars;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And winding it shaketh,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And grinding it quaketh;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It slopes and it gropes,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It swims and it skims;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Here swaying it swerves,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡There playing it curves!
Terrifically-rising, spray-tipt, and capsizing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Immuring and luring,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡  Embow’ring, devouring,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Outskirting and flirting
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And maddening, and gladdening,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Extending, strength-spending,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Expelling, o’erwelling,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now smashing, then clashing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Ne’er tiring, inspiring,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Appalling, loud calling,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And snapping, and clapping,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now flaunting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡then difting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now haunting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡then shifting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Uplifting and rifting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And crowding and shrouding,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And chafing and scathing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And creeping and weeping,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It steadies and eddies
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Wherever its bed is;
Upstarting, down-darting, now closing, then parting,
It scatters, and shatters, and spatters, and patters;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Loud-screaming and scolding,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Its surface unfolding;
Swift-sinking, wave-linking, unthinking in drinking,
Embracing, effacing, grimacing, fleet racing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It bubbleth and troubleth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And bursting it doubleth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Where ending?   Where wending?
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Deep downward descending,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Rough-rending, contending,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡With boulders below!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now rampant, now couchant,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now swift, and then slow
With roar and with rattle, it bravely doth battle,
Majestically falling, fermenting and sprawling,
Magnificent-seeming, swift streaming, bright gleaming,
Whilst grand in its beauty, its motto is “duty,”
‡‡‡‡It cries with the thunderous voice of the Lord,
‡‡‡‡Propelled in vast volumes beneath the green sward;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Its rhythmical rhyme
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Hudibrastic, sublime,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Still swells out and wells out,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Unconquered by Time!
As onward still sparkling, it drowns itself darkling,
It frolics in freedom, it speaketh great gleedom,
It fuming doth fret, and fierce foaming doth flow,
Till tost down gulph’s gaping oblivion below!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And at all times ’tis heard
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡When Earth’s musical bird
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Is hushed into balmy and song-refting sleep,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡When golden-eyed Phoebus
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡To gloaming doth leave us,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Till raven-winged Erebus coyly doth creep;
Ah ! then what sensations, what curious vibrations
‡‡‡Man’s heart must discover when beating alone;
With nought but the thunder of torrents down under
‡‡‡Hurled swift from the height of their Nature-wrought throne!

* Table Rock

Source: E. L. T. Harris-Bickford. Gold — The God, and Other Poems. Camborne: The Author, [1893]

About E.L.T. Harris-Bickford