Mrs. Anna Edson Taylor, Goddess of Water by P.M. Reynolds

reynolds taylor
Annie Edson Taylor and her Barrel. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Since earth’s creation down the stormy way,
All human feats have been surpassed today.
Mrs. Edson Taylor, in her barrel sound,
Through the wild rapids did in safety bound.

Peerless Niagara to maddened fury grew,
Raging more strongly not to let her through.
But on she went and all the rapids crossed;
By their turbulence she was roughly tossed.

Her venturous voyage still she did pursue,
With undaunted courage nearing the horseshoe.
Once at its brink, a second seemed to stop,
Then came the awful and the wondrous drop.

In her barrel, victorious and alone,
As when great Vulcan was from Heaven thrown,
A minute later on placid waters green
In rising foam the barrel then was seen.

Fast heading inland for the rocky shore,
As from fifty thousand came a cheerful roar.
Time’s wide dial, her brilliant name will show
Till time’s no more, as on the ages go.

Cataract Journal, October 28, 1901.

Source: Whalen, Dwight. The Lady Who Conquered Niagara: The Annie Edson Taylor Story. Brewer, Maine: EGA Books, 1990.

Our Niagara River by Lini Grol

From lake to lake,
the Niagara River flows
it rolls and rolls
and wanders
skirting the shores, the towns
villages and cities, hurriedly
embracing the green isles
before finally the River
races towards the Falls
Skipping over rocks and whipping up rapids
it digs and dives. A mountain of
water in majestic emerald green,
a sight and sound
unseen, anywhere in this world;
deep down the Falls
it falls … then
roars up in mystical clouds
like a unicorn
with a rainbow as crown.
With proud hurry the noble Niagara
wanders on and on
under the bridges
which arch in glory
carrying traffic and people
of every race and nation
back and forth
back and forth.
But the old Niagara goes on as it did for eons,
carrying the seeds and scents
from its flowering shores
and clamouring with pride
a great and courageous past
silently saluting the landmarks
where still the spirits linger.
And the blue Niagara River
goes on as ever
drawing Whirlpools as if marking
the sacred spots as to remember
where our heroes fell, and
solemn vows were made
holy alliances pledged
and often as not were betrayed.
Then the mighty Niagara rushes on
running head on in a cul-de-sac
white gray forbidding rocks
are hovering high up
walling up its road, forcing it
to the right, taking its power
where it is reined, stored
and scientifically divided.
But now that Niagara, that powerful river
smiles and spreads calmly out
like a kind mother her skirts
to hold more in her lap.
In silence the white sailed boats
come criss-crossing up the blue river
to escort it with dignity and grace
to Ontario’s glorious lake.

Source: Grol, Lini, ed. by Kevin McCabe and Lynne Prunskus. Lake to Lake: Lini Grol’s Niagara.  St. Catharines: Blarney Stone Books, c2000.

Niagara by Arthur William Fisher

Niagara by Arthur William Fisher
Portrait of Arthur William Fisher
                        I

NIAGARA, how charms thy name
    Resounding from thy high walled sheer!
How sweet thy water's far acclaim
    That bursts upon my pricking ear!
How beams my eye with kindling flame
    As to thy presence I draw near,
Where beautied grandure's falling swell
Weaves still time's awful, mystic spell!

I gaze at thee from nearest shore,
    Close by the impending brink,
In wonder at thy fearful pour
Of waters, til, amazèd more
    Than I can tell or think,
I only see thy mist's fine shower
    That wafts upon these walls,
And vision dim that mighty Power,
    The Great Spirit of the Falls.

                    II

But lo ! up stream, in fitful dream,
    The rolling, rumbling rapids roar,
And toss and tilt and turn and teem,
And gurgle in their cascades' gleam
    From isle to isle and isle to shore;
        And oft repeat the dazzling feat,
Display their leaping wonders more,
Rush round the rocks with flaring locks,
Lead as bellweathers do their flocks,
    While through their tree-trimmed way they pour,
        These bounding waters, fleet, more fleet,
To gather in one onward rush
    Adown their troubled, rocky bed,
And struggle, straggle, gurgle, gush,
    To follow where their leaders led;
        But panting now for breath,
            They stagger to the edge
            Of overhanging ledge,
        Fearing the plunge beneath;
When forth in foam their fellows come,
Cheering and jeering the faltering and fearing,
Till onto the precipice they rush with a roar,
Exulting and leaping, as comrades before;
Yet staring, stumbling, crashing, crumbling,
    As host with host o'erpowering,
Each glistening wight of air commingled,
    They fall in gulf devouring;
Or, flaring, flashing, darting, dashing,
    To break as gleaming snow,
While splitting, splashing, gnawing, gnashing
    Upon the rocks below;
Whence o'er the heights their spirits towering,
Sweeping, swaying, rising, lowering,
    Rejoin the ceaseless flow,
That with recurring, falling shock,
    Born on the wind's bluff blast,
Wears e'er amain the shelving rock,
    And undermines aghast.
    There as by mighty hand,
A cavern forms, carved by the storms
    Of vexed spray's pelting wave;
    And in that rocky cave
Rough columns stand with altar grand;
    While fittingly conforms
The spray-worn dome and bowlder pave,
Round which reëcho e'er a stave
    Of wailing wind's weird band;
And there before the cavern door,
Attended with intoning roar,
    E'er falls the Bridal Veil
    And sweeps the filmy rail,
Which now through Bridal Hall are fanned,
Now screen that Wind's Cave from the land. 
 Continue reading "Niagara  by Arthur William Fisher" 

Niagara by Joseph Rodman Drake

I.

Portrait of Joseph Rodman Drake
Portrait of Joseph Rodman Drake

Roar, raging torrent! and thou, mighty river,
Pour thy white foam on the valley below;
Frown, ye dark mountains! and shadow for ever
The deep rocky bed where the wild rapids flow.
The green sunny glade, and the smooth flowing fountain,
Brighten the home of the coward and slave;
The flood and the forest, the rock and the mountain,
Rear on their bosoms the free and the brave.

II.

Nurslings of nature, I mark your bold bearing,
Pride in each aspect and strength in each form,
Hearts of warm impulse, and souls of high daring,
Born in the battle and rear’d in the storm.
The red levin flash and the thunder’s dread rattle,
The rock-riven wave and the war trumpet’s breath,
The din of the tempest, the yell of the battle,
Nerve your steeled bosoms to danger and death.

III.

High on the brow of the Alps’ snowy towers
The mountain Swiss measures his rock-breasted moors,
O’er his lone cottage the avalanche lowers,
Round its rude portal the spring-torrent pours.
Sweet is his sleep amid peril and danger,
Warm is his greeting to kindred and friends,
Open his hand to the poor and the stranger,
Stern on his foeman his sabre descends.

IV.

Lo! where the tempest the dark waters sunder
Slumbers the sailor boy, reckless and brave,
Warm’d by the lighting and lulled by the thunder,
Fann’d by the whirlwind and rock’d on the wave;
Wildly the winter wind howls round his pillow,
Cold on his bosom the spray showers fall;
Creaks the strained mast at the rush of the billow,
Peaceful he slumbers, regardless of all.

V.

Mark how the cheek of the warrior flushes,
As the battle drum beats and the war torches glare;
Like a blast of the north to the onset he rushes,
And his wide-waving falchion gleams brightly in air.
Around him the death-shot of foemen are flying,
At his feet friends and comrades are yielding their breath;
He strikes to the groans of the wounded and dying,
But the war cry he strikes with is, ‘conquest or death!’

VI.

Then pour thy broad wave like a flood from the heavens,
Each son that thou rearest, in the battle’s wild shock,
When the death-speaking note of the trumpet is given,
Will charge like thy torrent or stand like thy rock.
Let his roof be the cloud and the rock be his pillow,
Let him stride the rough mountain, or toss on the foam,
He will strike fast and well on the field or the billow,
In triumph and glory, for God and his home!

Source: Joseph Rodman Drake The Culprit Fay, and Other Poems, New York: George Dearborn, 1836

See Drake’s other poem on this site, Niagara’s Everlasting Voice

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