Niagara by Lydia Huntley Sigourney

sigourney niagara table

sigourney niagara table
The Horse-Shoe Falls by W.H. Bartlett. Image Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library.

Up to the Table-Rock, where the great flood
Reveals its fullest glory. To the verge
Of its appalling battlement draw near,
And gaze below.    Or if thy spirit fail,
Creep stealthily, and snatch a trembling glance
Into the dread abyss.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡What there thou seest
Shall dwell for ever in thy secret soul,
Finding no form of language.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The vexed deep,
Which from the hour that Chaos heard the voice
Let there be light, hath known nor pause, nor rest,
Communeth through its misty cloud with Him
Who breaks it on the wheel of pitiless rock,
Yet heals it every moment.   Bending near,
Mid all the terror, as an angel-friend,
The rainbow walketh in its company
With perfect orb full-rounded.   Dost thou cling
Thus to its breast, a Comforter, to give
Strength in its agony, thou radiant form,
Born of the trembling tear-drop, and the smile
Of sun, or glimmering moon?   
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Yet from a scene
So awfully sublime, our senses shrink,
And fain would shield them at the solemn base
Of the tremendous precipice, and glean
Such hallowed thoughts as blossom in its shade.    Continue reading “Niagara by Lydia Huntley Sigourney”

Niagara by Lydia Huntley Sigourney

sigourney niagara flow

sigourney niagara flow
Lydia Huntley Sigourney

Flow on forever, in thy glorious robe
Of terror and of beauty.   Yea, flow on
Unfathomed and resistless.   God hath set
His rainbow on thy forehead; and the cloud
Mantled around thy feet.   And he doth give
Thy voice of thunder power to speak of Him
Eternally, — bidding the lip of man
Keep silence — and upon thy rocky altar pour
Incense of awe-struck praise.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Ah! who can dare
To lift the insect-trump of earthly hope,
Or love, or sorrow, mid the peal sublime
Of thy tremendous hymn? Even Ocean shrinks
Back from thy brotherhood, and all his waves
Retire abashed.   For he doth sometimes seem
To sleep like a spent labourer, and recall
His wearied billows from their vexing play,
And lull them to a cradle calm; but thou
With everlasting, undecaying tide,
Dost rest not, night or day.   The morning stars,
When first they sang oer young creations birth,
Heard thy deep anthem; and those wrecking fires,
That wait the archangels signal to dissolve
This solid earth, shall find Jehovahs name
Graven, as with a thousand diamond spears
On thine unending volume.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Every leaf,
That lifts itself within thy wide domain,
Doth gather greenness from thy living spray,
Yet tremble at the baptism.   Lo! — yon birds
Do boldly venture near, and bathe their wing
Amid thy mist and foam.   ‘Tis meet for them
To touch thy garments hem, and lightly stir
The snowy leaflets of thy vapour wreath,
For they may sport unharmed amid the cloud,
Or listen at the echoing gate of Heaven,
Without reproof.   But, as for us, it seems
Scarce lawful, with our broken tones, to speak
Familiarly of thee. Methinks, to tint
Thy glorious features with our pencils point,
Or woo thee to the tablet of a song,
Were profanation.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Thou dost make the soul
A wondering witness of thy majesty,
But as it presses with delirious joy
To pierce thy vestibule, dost chain its step,
And tame its rapture with the humbling view
Of its own nothingness, bidding it stand
In the dread presence of the Invisible,
As if to answer to its God through thee.

Source: Myron T. Pritchard, comp. Poetry of Niagara. Boston: Lothrup Publishing Co., 1901

The Winter King at Niagara Falls by Caroline Eleanor Wilkinson

winter king

winter king
Horseshoe Falls and American Falls in Winter, March, 1927. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

The Winter King makes splendent gems, to deck Niagaras
‡‡‡‡rugged shore.
At night he deftly strings them there, then adds in daylight to
‡‡‡‡his store;
He captures snow, the pearly spray, and weaves them into
‡‡‡‡patterns rare;
The waters edge, the banks so steep he wraps in frosted
‡‡‡‡garments fair.
With filmy lace in clinging grace, the little shrubs are sweetly
All crusted oer with diamonds bright, they trail on snowy
‡‡‡‡coated ground.
The trees of pine in glory shine, their branches bending
‡‡‡‡very low,
Laden down and drooping neath the crystallized and
‡‡‡‡gleaming snow.
Below the Falls an ice mound glints — by old King Winters
‡‡‡‡breath twas formed;
The amethystine waters edge with great ice hummocks
‡‡‡‡is adorned,
From shore to shores a bridge of ice, as marvellous as
‡‡‡‡artists dream.
While underneath imprisoned is the sobbing, surging
O fairyland of ice and snow, mysterious is your allure! —
A picture chaste and beautiful and symbolizing all
‡‡‡‡things pure.

Source: Caroline Eleanor Wilkinson. Poems that Appeal. Niagara Falls, Ont. : F. H. Leslie, Limited, Printers, 1928


Voice of Niagara by Caroline Eleanor Wilkinson

voice niagara

voice niagara
General View of Niagara Falls, ca. 1900. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Thou art the queen of all rivers, rejoicing in song,
‡‡As you toss the white spray, driving mist to the shore;
And your voice echoes jubilant, resonant, strong —
‡‡O such music neer greeted a mortal before.

And sublime your melodious, thundering boom, —
‡‡A far reaching refrain, so triumphant and long,
Tis the meeting of waters that dash to their doom,
‡‡And the sweet intermezzo that creeps in your song.

But the centuries come and the centuries go,
‡‡And the white man now treads where the Indian raced;
Loud your waters still sing, and as restlessly flow,
‡‡As when near the great cataract, wigwams were placed.

You are tragic in splendour, primordially grand,
‡‡And your mystical waves glow with opaline sheen,
With perpetual song, swelling out oer the land,
‡‡You enchant us forever, magnificent Queen.

Source: Caroline Eleanor Wilkinson. Poems That Appeal. Niagara Falls, Ont. : F.H. Leslie, Limited,. Printers, 1928.

voice niagara

The Unforgotten by Caroline Eleanor Wilkinson

Unveiling and dedication of the Soldier’s Monument in Queen Victoria Park, May 22, 1927. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Unforgotten, unforgotten are the stalwart and the brave,
Men who died for home and country, grand old Union Jack to save.
Though the war-drums beat is over, and the turmoil seems a dream,
Still the faces of our loved ones, ever in our memry gleam.

Trained not in their youth to warfare, yet they fought right valiantly,
Staunch at Vimy and in Flanders, routed enemies would flee;
Through the din of battles dauntless, for they knew their cause was right,
Though barrage was shrieking round them, on they struggled day and night.

Midst the gas and big guns roaring, quaking earth and bursting shell,
So heroic was their conduct, tongue can never fully tell;
Ringing through the coming ages, both in history and song,
Will be deeds of worth and valor in that fray so fierce and long.

In the air they were as fearless as the eagle in its flight,
Scouting in the zone of danger, flying through the clouds of night,
Proving to the Mother Country, Canada had offspring strong
Who were ready for their duty over there to right the wrong.

Now they rest in foreign regions, far away from native land,
Still in spirit they are with us, a revered and noble band;
Unforgotten will their names be, treasured in our hearts theyd dwell,
Sacrificial price of victry, as they in the combat fell.

Greater than our expectations was the prowess of our men,
Naught have we to give in tribute save a Cenotaph to them,
So we place it on Niagaras wonderful and far-famed shore,
In the park where singing waters swell in deep, triumphal roar.

There the flowers thrive and blossom, showered with the rivers spray,
Near the falling, rushing torrent, swiftly flowing there alway;
Where the silver birch and maple in the Spring are to be seen,
(Symbol of the resurrection) with new buds of living green.

“Written for the unveiling of the Cenotaph in memory of our beloved dead, and read on that occasion.”

Source: Caroline Eleanor Wilkinson. Poems That Appeal. Niagara Falls, Ont. : F.H. Leslie, Limited, Printers, 1928