The withered grass emerged from its coccoon,
its muted green faintly aglow amid the stones.
A wintry howl still echoed in the wind,
in the churning of waters down below.
Their cast-off plunder eddied round and round
as chilly mists ascended
to the hanging oblivion of the funicular,
in an increasing throbbing of cables all aquiver.
And yet in this vacation spot
there will be daffodils and other flowers
alien to the beginning of my life,
when the unspeakable river flowed so gently
within its honey shores.
I know I will return again year after year,
I will return again
wearing a little smile of wonderment
perched on my lips like a question mark.
Original version published in Canadian Literature, no. 142/143, (Fall/Winter 1994). Vancouver: British Columbia University Press. p. 10. This version courtesy of the author, 2001.
Here speaks the voice of God — let man be dumb,
Nor with his vain aspirings hither come.
That voice impels the hollow-sounding floods,
And like a presence fills the distant woods.
These groaning rocks the Almighty’s finger piled;
For ages here his painted bow has smiled,
Mocking the changes and the chance of time —
Eternal, beautiful, serene, sublime!
Source: Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery Adjacent. Buffalo: Steam Press of Thomas and Lathrops, copyright by Jewett, Thomas & Co.,1856c.1848
Also published in: Myron T. Pritchard, comp. Poetry of Niagara. Boston: Lothrop Publishing Co., 1901.
Had Dante ever seen this prodigy,
This monstrous monument of Nature's wrath,
Then had he found new terrors to surround
The entrance to Inferno. At the gate
A power invisible becomes our guide,
And our smooth car swings into the Abime.
The evening shades have fallen and a cloud,
Huge, threatening, and amorphous settles down,
Bridging the gulf. Lo! now assails our ears,
The hissing tumult of the floods that dash,
Writhing in agony, 'twixt iron walls,
O'er rude and tortuous beds!
The uproar grows,
And the pent waters churning into foam,
Round adamantine boulders, scream aloud,
Till maddened past all bound, they end the note
In maniac glee!
Above and all about,
Colossal cliffs their lithic brows uplift,
To the grim skies, and horror reigns supreme!
"Release!" "Release!" the torn waves howl beneath --
"Give us release!" -- and the harsh cliffs reply,
With mocking echoes -- their eroded breasts,
Gargantuan laughter shakes.
And now our car
Leaves the dread scene, and up the wall's sheer side,
Climbs, groaning with vast effort, till we view,
From perilous height the black gulf far below,
And quake to ponder plunging down so steep,
To dire destruction!
All at once there opes
A rocky portal, and we breathe relief,
For, lo! the streets, the windows, and the lights!
The newsboys' cries, the clatter of the town!
Source: Rev. James B. Dollard. Poems. Toronto: The Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada, 1910.