The Herd of Unicorn by Evelyn M. Watson

unicorn
Postcard showing the American Falls, Luna Island, and Luna Falls (also known as the Bridal Veil Falls). Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library


(Luna Island — 1904)

In drifty spray like unicorn,
She saw one splendid golden horn
Where windy crests were silky bright
And fulvent in the summer light:
Nor did she err in mind or sight:

Eltrich creatures, snowy maned
Had sought the Island unrestrained:
She did not know the beat and pound
Of her young heart within the sound
Nor that The Mystical was found. . . .

Luna Falls, and Luna Island
Seemed a faery vision, highland —
Whence to see through lucent space
A Higher realm, a different race,
Born from Youth’s Immoral Grace. . . .

She felt, she lived, the poetry,
Enmeshed in Nature’s mystery,
But when she said “They are not paired”
Her unawakened friends but stared!
They little knew, much less they cared.


Source: Evelyn M. Watson. Poems of the Niagara Frontier.  New York: Dean & Company, 1929

Author’s note: The unicorn is a fabled creature said not to mate — symbol of the Quickened Mind of the church too — the manes of these (or of “horses”) may be observed in foam if one has the imagination of youth.

See other poems by Evelyn M. Watson

Again to the Falls by Lynne Bronstein

bronstein
Mr. & Mrs. Harry Lewis At Table Rock Observation Platform, Horseshoe Falls In Background. Photographer unknown. Francis A. Petrie Collection. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

I visited Niagara Falls only once. I was sixteen
And with my family. The Customs Man
Came to know us after a few days.
But every time we crossed the bridge,
He asked us “Where were you born?”
Because he had to.
I spent much time on the Canadian side
Because it was exciting to be in another country.
I watched the trains that ran through the center of town.
Longest trains I’d ever seen, Canadian railroad.
I saw the bell tower where an unfaithful blonde
Was strangled by her husband in the movie Niagara.
But the Falls? The three waterfalls,
Demonstrating the full force of water at top speed—
All I did was look at them.
My parents had been under them.
It had once been the fashion
For honeymooners to travel
To the Falls. For the maximum
In daring romance, they’d don clumsy raincoats
And clunky boots
And ride the boat Maid of the Mist
As it passed beneath the muscular shower,
Getting each marriage off
To a drenching start.
As if to say: “We are not wed
Until we’ve been soaked
And cleansed
In the spray of the Falls.”

I wonder if this magic might work in reverse.
If I were to go to Niagara now
And stand beneath the Falls
And let the water change me,
Make me ready
To receive
Love that streams
Like non-stop water.
It is not a question of where I was born
But rather a question of where I will revive.
Under the rainbow arc of water
Where love and courage have been tested
And children are conceived.
No age is too late for a honeymoon.
To stand beneath the Falls
Is an item on my list.


Lynne Bronstein is a poet, a journalist, a fiction writer, a songwriter, and a playwright. She has been published in magazines ranging from Chiron Review, Spectrum, and Lummox, to Playgirl and the newsletter of the U.S. Census Bureau. Bronstein has published five books of poetry, including her latest, Nasty Girls from Four Feathers Publishing. Her first crime story was published in 2017 in the anthology LAst Resort. Her adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It was performed at two LA libraries. Her story “The Magic Candles” was performed on National Public Radio. She’s been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and four times for the Best of the Net awards.

Niagara by Espy Williams

espy

espy
Sun low in the sky shining through the mist at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls, January 7, 2007. Photo by Andrew Porteus.

Before —— the bright green waters
‡‡In listless madness fly,
Leap shouting smoothly downward
‡‡Mount mistful, white to sky.

Above —— the bright sun shining
‡‡Kisses the dancing spray,
Till smiling it blushes all colors
‡‡And in gladness melts away.

O heart ! with your tireless torrent
‡‡Of doubt, and cataract fears,
Love’s sunshine still kisses to blushes,
‡‡And scatters your mist and tears.

Source: Dow, Charles Mason. Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls. Albany: State of New York, 1921.

First published in Espy Williams. Dream of Art, and Other Poems. New York: Putnam, 1892.

Click here to see the 1961 PhD dissertation by Patricia Kennedy Rickels. The Literary Career of Epsy Williams: New Orleans Poet and Playwright (1852-1908).

A Niagara Landscape by Archibald Lampman

lampman

lampman
Stamp honouring Archibald Lampman, issued July 7, 1989

Heavy with haze that merges and melts free
‡‡Into the measureless depth on either hand,
‡‡The full day rests upon the luminous land
In one long noon of golden reverie.
Now hath the harvest come and gone with glee.
‡‡The shaven fields stretch smooth and clean away,
‡‡Purple and green, and yellow, and soft gray,
Chequered with orchards.    Farther still I see
Towns and dim villages, whose roof-tops fill
‡‡The distant mist, yet scarcely catch the view.
Thorold set sultry on its plateau’d hill,
‡‡And far to westward, where yon pointed towers
Rise faint and ruddy from the vaporous blue,
‡‡Saint Catharines, city of the host of flowers.

Source:  Lampman, Archibald. (ed. & with a memoir by Duncan Campbell Scott)  The Poems of Archibald Lampman.  Toronto; George N. Morang & Co., 1900.

The Lampman family homestead, originally known as Mountain Point, became the present day Woodland Conservation Area.

Mist-Pictures by Evelyn M. Watson

watson mist
(At the foot of the American Falls)

watson mist
American Falls from the Canadian side (stereograph), 1902. Courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library

Through drifty silver smoke, that’s opalescent,
The soft-spun rainbows curve, each one a crescent
And we who stand, where once the hoary otter
Trailed sooty moles, behold the self-same water
And revel in the tender-tinted blur
That blows about this perpendicular
Descent these maiden-veils, so evanescent —
One feels the beautiful, our God, a-stir.
From dim concealment whips of color leap,
His many glories, powers, find voice and keep
The living spirit conscious of the deep.

The mind can pierce the past — the fragrant wood —
Each wild flower with its aureole, a snood,
In convents green that shield each sisterhood :
The tallish primrose in its shapely scone
A candle for some barren place of stone.
We see how driven drifts of spray can linger
In opal moonlight, star-companioned : finger
The budding pine tree, tipped with emerald crosses,
And underneath, the cool and long drenched mosses —
We’ve touched the tarnished rocks and silver bosses :
There seems no sadness — other songs malinger.

Again one sees a twisting vine, a rope
Of wild growth twining on a footless slope,
Men descending, English Lord, or cotter,
To catch this very view of misting water. . .
Upon our hands spilt dews, like some baptism
To honor daily idylls, heroism ;
And early Warriors with their many nations
Who gave their Mystic One their bright oblations
Of fruit and flower and youth, like ancient Stoic —
(Soul-courage may not deem itself heroic) —
And now we make ourselves our consecrations.

Within these organ-tones of color-thunder
There tides to mind an old, yet-dim wonder :
Man’s NOT the spider forever clambering down
Old causeways where forbidding rocks shall frown,
Nor yet the soldier with defiant plume. . .
(How many phantoms in this dull-green gloom) —
But here he stands so near the Farther Border
He finds in seeming chaos, love’s deep order,
Serenity behind the cataclysm,
The same sweet rainbow in each haunting prism —
In all this welter, sheerest symmetry,
And then beyond — God’s choice simplicity.
Beyond the auric smoke and dazzling dews,
Beyond these organ-tones that far diffuse
Their song, there’s ever pierceless Mystery,
For far within Man finds himself and Thee.

But there’s more beauty than’s interpreted;
(Beyond the song that’s heard, the song that’s hid,)
And if there’s Immanence within the mists
And Radiance where moon-gold weaves and twists
Strange forms for eyes, there’s greater light within
The heart of man and in the soul there’s been
Implanted Truth — oh, so imperative —
That we, in turn, are kin not fugitive
As slaves, and not idolatrous,
But His Beloved, who asks all love of us,
As mists shall hide the waters from the sight
This beauty-veil conceals, reveals, His Light.

Through drifty silver smoke, that’s opalescent,
The soft-spun rainbows curve, each one a crescent
And we, who stand where once the hoary otter
Trailed sooty moles, behold the self-same water
And revel in the tender-tinted blur
That blows about this perpendicular
Descent these maiden-veils, so evanescent
One feels the beautiful, our God, a-stir.
From dim concealment whips of color leap,
His many glories, powers, find voice and keep
The living spirit conscious of the Deep.

watson mist

Source: Evelyn M. Watson. Poems of the Niagara Frontier. New York: Dean & Company, 1929.

Click to see more poems from Watson’s Poems of the Niagara Frontier