Niagara by George Houghton

  houghton niagara   

houghton niagara
A Distant View of the Falls of Niagara. 1835, by Thomas Cole.  Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library.

Formed when the oceans were fashioned, when all the world
‡‡was a workshop;
Loud roared the furnace fires, and tall leapt the smoke
‡‡from volcanoes,
Scooped were round bowls for lakes, and grooves for the
‡‡sliding of rivers,
Whilst, with a cunning hand, the mountains were linked
‡‡together.

Then through the daw-dawn, lurid with cloud, and rent
‡‡by forked lightning,
Striken by earthquake beneath, above by the rattle of
‡‡thunder,
Sudden the clamour was pierced by a voice, deep-lunged
‡‡and portentous —
Thine, O Niagara, crying: “Now is created completed!”

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡II.

Millions of cup-like blossoms, brimming with dew and with
‡‡rain-drops,
Mingle their tributes together to form one slow-trickling
‡‡brooklet;
Thousands of brooklets and rills, leaping down from their
‡‡home in the uplands,
Grow to a smooth, blue river, serene and flowing in
‡‡silence.

Hundreds of smooth, blue rivers, flashing afar o’er the
‡‡prairies,
Darkening ‘neath forests of pine, deep drowning the reeds
‡‡in the marshes,
Cleaving with noiseless sledge the rocks red-crusted with
‡‡copper,
Circle at last to one common goal, the Mighty Sea-Water.

Lo! to the northward outlying, wide glimmers the stretch
‡‡of the Great Lake,
White-capped and sprinkled with foam, that tumbles its
‡‡bellowing breakers
Landward on beaches of sand, and in hiding-holes hollow
‡‡with thunder,
Landward where plovers frequent, with the wolf and the
‡‡westering bison.    Continue reading “Niagara by George Houghton”

Lelawala: The Maid of the Mist by Lini Grol

grol lelawala
Lelawala – scissorcut by Lini Grol, 1996

(From an old Indian legend of the maiden and
her lover who went over Niagara Falls)

Lelawala, Lelawala,
The beautiful Lelawala
With the light of the moon in her hair.
Lelawala, Lelawala,
With the warmth of a fire in her voice;
And her eyes — Lelawala —
With the grace
And the gentleness of a doe.
Lelawala, Lelawala,
With the swiftness of a swallow
To help those in sorrow.
Lelawala, Lelawala,
With the wisdom of owls, Lelawala,
With a heart warm for everyone;
Lelawala, Lelawala,
To good for any man, meant for a god.

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" 

Sons of Adam by Patricia Borneman Dagle

Sons of Adam, watch!

Thundering clouds
over the roar of a thousand nights
smashing water
spilling mist on ancient rocks.

Tremors beget the moving form
created to carry men in God’s direction
yet,

Sons of Adam, Listen!

Building the Tower of Babel
dumb in spirit
yet brilliant in designing
a god to themselves

In the midst of futile human endeavor
stands a mighty warrior,
an ancient ghost
“Onguirahra! Noss oossima!”
tall, courageous
believing in a power
greater than that
which was created

Sons of Adam, look!

On mighty rushing wings
He raises his spear
and with one fell swoop
brings down
the concrete rocks.

and the river rises up
to greet Him
moving faithfully forward
with the thundering power of the falls.

Peace is restored
and a tree planted by the river
reaches its roots out
and grows among men’s ashes.

while the warrior
rests beneath its shade.
And is refreshed
in the cool depths
of Onguirahra!

 

Source: The author, July 8, 2001.

Looking for Niagara by E. R. Baxter III

It’s Niagara lost
in the 20th century, disappeared
from the cereal box, up in mist,
a canvas backdrop in one hundred thousand
dead photographs, fading from postcards,
gone to Bermuda, Disney World, flown
to Aruba, splish took a bath at Niagara
splash went to Vegas for the weekend—
but had room at the motel
for Joseph and Marilyn
and were they impressed?
There’s no record of it.

But the first human record at Niagara
before it had name–the first human at ?
who left a flint spear point, water
falling at the whirlpool then,
at old gorge, and the spear point:
dropped in fear, in awe,
in wonder at new water,
ice falling who thought of it as !

Wandering hunter, archaeologists say, who
if he were there at all, didn’t stay long,
as if he had, for months let’s say, they’d
have known—would have found the tree
against which he relieved himself,
charcoal trace on stone, where he
cooked fish—as if no Niagara rock
has been left unturned.

The most recent evidence indicates he
did stay but a brief time—only minutes—
that dizzy from spoiled fish innards
he stumbled out of the woods
toward thunder, saw falling water, stared
slack-jawed into mists and steam rising
against south gorge wall, had visions:

The wall exploding, water rushing forth
gnawing south, divers fearful things—
dropped his spear, fled empty-handed
and throwing up back among the trees
and who wouldn’t have?

What he saw: the sun rising and setting
3 million 647 thousand 445 times, ten
thousand winters and springs, trees
leafing out, hot suns, leaves coloring,
withering, dropping, snows whirling,
grass greening, fogs gathering, rains,
trees dying, toppling, new trees as slim
as spears growing thicker than his body,
salamanders mating between his gnarled toes,
mice nibbling algae from his ankles, a wolf
marking territory on his left shin

Continue reading “Looking for Niagara by E. R. Baxter III”