The Genius of Niagara by John Chase Lord

lord

lord
John Chase Lord

Proud demon of the waters — thou
‡‡Around whose stern and stormy brow
Circles the rainbow’s varied gem —
‡‡The Vapor Spirit’s diadem —
While rushing headlong at they feet,
The everlasting thunders meet.

Throned on the mists, around thy form
‡‡Is dashing an eternal storm,
Whose ceaseless, changeless earthquake shock
‡‡The tempests of old Ocean mock.
And the dark Sea-King yields to thee,
The meed of might and majesty.

Depth, Sound, Immensity have lent
‡‡Their terrors to thy element;
Thy congregated waters yell
‡‡Down caverns fathomless as Hell,
While in Heaven’s glorious hues are set
About thy gorgeous coronet.

Titanic winter strives in vain
‡‡To bind thee in his icy chain,
Which rent by thy resistless wave
‡‡Finds in thy fearful depths — a grave;
Or the torn fragments glistening lie
In the glare of thy kingly eye.

A silvery web among thy trees
‡‡Unruffled by the passing breeze
The vanquished Ice-King for thee weaves,
‡‡And gives them gems for winter leaves,
And rears thee columns, bright and vast,
Their radiance through thy halls to cast.

The giant Time hath never yet
‡‡His footsteps in thy waters set:
Grimly passing thy fall, he tries
‡‡To notch his by-gone centuries
Along the dark and devious track
Of they rock-crashing Cataract.

Emblem of Power —  the mighty Sun
‡‡Hath found and left thee roaring on,
Thou wert with Chaos, e’re his light
‡‡Shone out upon the starless night,
Sole relic of that awful day
When all in wild confusion lay.

And when Air, Earth, and Sea and Sky
‡‡Formless again together lie,
When judgement fires are kindling o’er
‡‡Old Nature’s wreck — Niagara’s roar,
First echo in the ear of Time,
Shall sing his requiem sublime.

Source: John Chase Lord. Occasional Poems. Buffalo: Breed and Lent, 1869

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

 

Niagara by Edith Wyatt

wyatt

wyatt
Panoramic view of Niagara Falls from Canadian side of river showing both American and Horseshoe Falls, 1913. Photo by Francis King. Courtesy of Library of Congress

(a nature poem)

Cool the crystal mist is falling where my song is calling, calling
‡‡Over highland, over lowland, fog-blown bluff and bouldered shore:
Proud my snow-rapt currents leaping from Superior’s green keeping.
‡‡Down from Michigan’s gray sweeping toward the Rapid’s eddied floor.

Rain, hail, dew and storm-cloud swing me; from the heights the hollows wring me;
‡‡Filtered clay and field silt bring me silent through the dark-breathed loam,
Down the thousand-terraced highlands till the skyland lake-beds wing me —
‡‡Flying down and down in beauty through the chasm’s flocking foam.

Down from Huron, down from Erie, tho the wild duck’s wing grow weary,
‡‡Tribe and nation part and vanish like the spin-drift haze of morn,
Fresh my full-fold song is falling and my voice is calling, calling
‡‡Down from far-poured lake and highland as I sang when I was born.

South, North, East and West untiring speak my brother seas in splendor,
‡‡Tell their dominant, desiring, claimant over coast and main,
Mine the choiring of a woman’s chord immortal, of surrender —
‡‡Of the splendor of desiring, deep to give and give again.

Chord of star-fused loam and silver-surgent lake cloud’s generation,
‡‡Here I sing the earth’s still dreaming down my green-poured currents’ length,
Voice of river-rocking valleys, rich heart plains and heights’ creation,
‡‡Clear-veiled chord that locked in your mother’s life, your father’s strength.

Cool the fog-flocked mists are swinging. Soar, my dream; and silver winging,
‡‡Call my air-hung music ringing, toward the crystal-buoyed morn —
Full-fold music from the highlands, where my splendor’s voice is singing,
‡‡Fresh from flooded shores and skylands as I sang when I was born.

Source:  Literary Digest, September 27, 1913 p. 544

Originally published in Collier’s Weekly

Hymn of Niagara by Thomas Hill, D.D.

hymn

hymn
The Falls of Niagara From the Canadian Side, 1868. Painted by B. Hess. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Here I stand ! here from the flood, raving unceasingly,
Hoarse, shrill murmurs arise; shrill as the wind, when it
‡‡‡‡Roars through the trees stripped of their foliage,
‡‡‡‡Singing its wild anthem of liberty.

With these come to the ear, ever at intervals,
Quick notes, rattling and sharp; like the artillery
‡‡‡‡Heard when a storm, driving up rapidly,
‡‡‡‡Crashes the oaks down with its thunderbolts.

Now rise, muffled in mist, rolling up heavily,
Deep tones, awfully grand, shaking the earth, as they
‡‡‡‡Swell like the low bass of the thunder-storm,
‡‡‡‡Heard by the strained ear of the listener.

Thus float over the mist ever in harmony
Three tones, joyous and free, forming Niagara’s
‡‡‡‡Anthem of praise, new every moment, yet
‡‡‡‡Changeless as time, old as eternity.

Source:  Putnam’s Magazine, May 1868, p.538

Niagara by Katharine Lee Bates

bates

bates
Katharine Lee Bates, 1859 – 1929

PASSION of plunging waters, blanched to spray,
‡‡‡‡But shot with sheen of chrysolite and beryl ;
Columnar mist and glistening rainbow play ;
‡‡‡‡A splendid thrill of glory and of peril.

 

Source: Katharine Lee Bates.  America the Beautiful and Other Poems.  New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, Publishers, 1911

 

Niagara by Joseph Cook

cook

cook
Falls of Niagara by George Heriot, 1801.. Colour tint by Erna Jahnke. Courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library

I hear the thunderous thud, the muffled roar
I see the blinding, wheeling, smiting mists,
The greens, the grays, purples, and amethysts,
From Heaven’s wide palm thy frightened cataracts pour,
And I look up beneath them and adore.
Above me hang chain lightnings on the wrists
Of summer tempests.  In the awesome lists
Of contests are the thunders and thy shore.
Beneath thy quivering riven cliff I lie
And gaze into the lightning and the sky
But I hear only thee and touch and see
A hand which undergirds immensity.
Thou speakest much, but speaketh most of him;
God, God, God walks on thy watery rim.

Source: Charles Mason Dow. Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls. Albany: State of New York, 1921. p 825

Originally published in Joseph Cook. Overtones: a Book of Verse. New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1903