THE WATER TALKED TO THE TURBINE ‡‡AT THE INTAKE’S COUCHANT KNEE:
Brother, thy mouth is darkness ‡‡Devouring me.
I rush at the whirl of thy bidding; ‡‡I pour and spend
Through the wheel-pit’s nether tempest. ‡‡Brother, the end?
Before fierce days of tent and javelin, ‡‡Before the cloudy kings of Ur,
Before the Breath upon the waters, ‡‡My splendors were.
Red hurricanes of roving worlds, ‡‡Huge wallow of the uncharted Sea,
The formless births of fluid stars, ‡‡Remember me.
A glacial dawn, the smoke of rainbows, ‡‡The swiftness of the canoned west,
The steadfast column of white volcanoes, ‡‡Leap from my breast.
But now, subterranean, mirthless, ‡‡I tug and strain,
Beating out a dance thou hast taught me ‡‡With penstock, cylinder, vane.
I am more delicate than moonlight, ‡‡Grave as the thunder’s rocking brow;
I am genesis, revelation, ‡‡Yet less than thou.
By this I adjure thee, brother, ‡‡Beware to offend! For the least, the dumbfounded, the conquered, ‡‡Shall judge in the end.
THE TURBINE TALKED TO THE MAN ‡‡AT THE SWITCHBOARD’S CRYPTIC KEY:
Brother, thy touch is whirlwind ‡‡Consuming me.
I revolve at the pulse of thy finger. ‡‡Millions of power I flash
For the muted and ceaseless cables ‡‡And the engine’s crash.
Like Samson, fettered, blindfolded, ‡‡I sweat at my craft;
But I build a temple I know not, ‡‡Driver and ring and shaft.
Wheat-field and tunnel and furnace, ‡‡They tremble and are aware,
But beyond thou compellest me, brother, ‡‡Beyond these, where?
Singing like sunrise on battle, ‡‡I travail as hills that bow;
I am wind and fire of prophecy, ‡‡Yet less than thou.
By this I adjure thee, brother, ‡‡Be slow to offend! For the least, the blindfolded, the conquered, ‡‡Shall judge in the end.
THE MAN STROVE WITH HIS MAKER ‡‡AT THE CLANG OF THE POWER-HOUSE DOOR:
Lord, Lord, Thou art unsearchable, ‡‡Troubling me sore.
I have thrust my spade to the caverns; ‡‡I have yoked the cataract;
I have counted the steps of the planets.‡‡ ‡‡What thing have I lacked?
I am come to a goodly country, ‡‡Where, putting my hand to the plow,
I have not considered the lilies. ‡‡Am I less than Thou?
THE MAKER SPAKE WITH THE MAN ‡‡AT THE TERMINAL-HOUSE OF THE LINE:
For delight wouldst thou have desolation ‡‡O brother mine,
And flaunt on the highway of nations ‡‡A byword and sign?
Have I fashioned thee then in my image ‡‡And quickened thy spirit of old,
If thou spoil my garments of wonder ‡‡For a handful of gold?
I wrought for thy glittering possession ‡‡The waterfall’s glorious lust;
It is genesis, revelation,— ‡‡Wilt thou grind it to dust?
Niagara, the genius of freedom, ‡‡A creature for base command!
Thy soul is the pottage thou sellest; ‡‡Withhold thy hand.
Or take him and bind him and make him ‡‡A magnificent slave if thou must —
But remember that beauty is treasure ‡‡And gold is dust.
Yea, thou, returned to the fertile ground ‡‡In the humble days to be,
Shalt learn that he who slays a splendor ‡‡Has murdered Me.
By this I adjure thee, brother, ‡‡Beware to offend!
For the least, the extinguished, the conquered, ‡‡Shall judge in the end.
Niagara, my singing heart is fixed;
I love the rich contentment of your wood,
Your wind-scourged cliffs and that calm sisterhood
Of islands. As man-birds crest the wind betwixt
The Falls and the farther skies, on azure highways,
So poets look from heights yet more sublime,
Inviting Nature-lovers from life’s byways
To experience beyond all touch of time,
Aware of rhythm in a heart that’s living
Become attuned to fuller consciousness
Exalting joys that consecrate and bless. . . Niagara, we join your song Thanksgiving.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡II To the Public
Oh love the character of rocks, each tree
Along this course, each grot in solitude
With phantom—eerie ponds—the wind’s mood—
This thundering torrent in its majesty
With Nature’s attitude so grave and stern.
One feels the unity of truth and good
With beauty on life’s course—without return
Both condemnation and Beatitude.
Join now these staves of melody, the chording
Organ-tones with birds in blending choir—
And note heart-aching charms of misty fire: May Memory receive each jewel for hoarding.
Source: Evelyn M. Watson. Poems of the Niagara Frontier. New York: Dean & Company, 1929.
In nature, all acts that have gone before
Leave traces, record marks, clues, tracks in store
That many persons pause to ponder o’er.
From inside outwards was the earth’s crust made,
The hollows caved in, the high mountains stayed,
Encircling flames produced the waters vast,
And time and seasons scaled things to the last.
Would thirty thousand years of effort score
On your astonishment a mark, or more?
Then hearken to a tale of work replete
With action in rain, sunshine, frost and sleet.
The speaker is NIAG’RA RIVER, old,
Clear, turbulent, odd, scenic giver, bold.
With strength unshorn by time, and white of brow,
But not from years, I am the center now
For myriads that travel from far and
Near to view my Falls as the cascade grand.
My life is in the cycle of the rain,
My strength from waters the Great Lakes retain.
The first to view the drainage plan, of three
Such large lakes flowing into Erie free,
Thence through me to a fifth and on to sea,
Said, “This is quite rare and not apt to be.”
Important link am I, from fourth to last,
The present scanned, the future viewed, or past.
The deep flow of my misting Horseshoe Falls,
Out does thin water leaping from side walls.
The view and sound effects are rapturous,
The roar, thump grind and spray continuous.
At what they sense, the millions gaze appalled,
Awondering, breath indrawn, stilled, enthralled. Continue reading “The River Niagara by Donald Lashelle”→