Niagara by Lieut.-Col. J. R. Wilkinson

wilkinson niagara  

wilkinson niagara
Lieut.-Col. J. R. Wilkinson, Commander of the 21st Essex Battalion of Infantry, Essex & Kent Scottish Regiment

I was rapt in unutterable amaze
As I looked upon its awful front,
And saw the terrific roll of waters
As down the deadly mesmeric gorge they fell
In power irresistible, tremendous,
As if the wrath of God would rend the world asunder
For the sin and wrong that man hath done !
And the earth trembled as one in fear —
And the thunderous roar of its awesome voice
Made all else seem silent as the dead !

Yet, majestic and supremely beautiful art thou
When the god of day pours o’er thy front his wondrous light,
Or when the golden stars and dreaming, silvery moon
Lighteth up the slumb’rous shadows of the night.
Aye, thou are sublime, though terrible, Niagara !
How diminutive are man’s works compared to thee,
Thou awe-inspiring, terrific world-wide wonder —
Marvellous work of the Deity !

And thou has rolled and rolled, Niagara !
Adown the ages of the dim, mysterious past
Thou hast thundered in derision of the flight of time,
And mocked when nations to the grave were cast !
But the creator holds thee in the hollow of His hand,
And when the sea shall render up its ghastly dead
Thou shall be shorn of thy stupendous power,
And bow thy cruel and imperious head.

Source: Wilkinson, Lieut.-Col. J. R.  Canadian Battlefields and Other Poems. 2nd ed., Toronto: William Briggs, 1901

wilkinson niagara

Glen Albert Near DeCew Falls by A Traveller


Glen Albert
Decew Falls by Miller’s Photographic Saloon – Possibly Chauncey C Miller, active in St. Catharines c. 1865-1868

Glen Albert ! How lovely thy beautiful scene —
As lovely to me as a nymph of sixteen,
All blushing with health and unconscious of guile,
‘Tis a foretaste of Eden to bask in thy smile ;
To list in suspense to the sound of thy falls —
Hearing nature’s sweet music in nature’s own halls,
While the hue-changing leaves by the zephyr caressed,
Murmur softly and sweetly a sigh of love bless’d.
Though the sun’s glowing rays gild the woods on thy heights,
In thy depths far below there’s a gloom that delights,
Where the wandering traveller, wearied with care,
Can pause in thy Glen and find solitude there —
There alone in thy bosom, from tumult apart,
He can have a fit place to commune with his heart.
Proud Niagara calls him with voice loud and bold,
And lures to her falls, as the siren of old.
But thy sparkling cascades, gushing smiles mixed with tears,
Cause so modern Ulysses to stop up his ears.
Here retired from the haunts of fashion and crime,
Thou art seen in thy loveliness, truly sublime;
E’en in history’s page thou did’st shine long ago
When our heroes stood by thee to ward off their foe,
And a ‘Merritt’ held post after Beaver Dam fight,
Thou did’st bravely assist with a Spartan girl’s might
Let the foreigner share in Niagara’s roar,
That with menacing fury growls “Dieu et mon Droit,”
Yet Glen Albert ! the bird that loves its own nest
For a love — all its own — sure will love thee the best.

Source: Courtesy Dennis Gannon.

Poem clipped from an unknown and undated newspaper,  pasted to the back of the photograph above.

See more poems of the Battle of Beaverdams and the War of 1812 in Niagara

The Legend of the White Canoe by William Trumbull

legend white

legend white
The American Falls From Prospect Point, by F. V. Du Mond. Taken from The Legend of the White Canoe.

“Long before the solitudes of western New York were disturbed by the advent of the white man, it was the custom of the Indian tribes to assemble occasionally at Niagara, and offer sacrifice to the Spirit of the Falls.
This sacrifice consisted of a white birch-bark canoe, which was sent over the terrible cliff, filled with ripe fruits and blooming flowers, and bearing the fairest girl in the tribe who had just attained the age of womanhood.”

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡I. PROEM.

MID the rush of mighty waters, in the thundering cataract’s roar,
Where Niagara’s streaming rapids down in headlong torrent pour ;
Where the serried waves like chargers madly leaping to the fray,
Fling aloft their snowy crests and toss their manes of flying spray,
Rearing, plunging, onward urging — Nature’s glorious cavalry !
Where th’ eternal sweep of waters like the unending surge of time,
Pulsing, throbs in rhythmic measure to a wondrous strain sublime :
Dwells, so ancient legends say, the mighty Spirit of the Falls,
Who from out the tumult, hoarsely, for unbounded homage calls.
Here the children of the forest, spellbound by that deafening roar,
Stopped to gaze with listening wonder, in the simpler days of yore ;
Awe-struck, gazed in silent worship, well beseeming Nature’s child,
As in chase they roamed the plain, or tracked in war the pathless wild :
And as often as they listened, on the voices of the flood
Deep were borne the Spirit’s mutterings, calling fierce for human blood ;
Ay, and sacrifice more cruel in that cry they understood :
Gift of Nature’s choicest treasure, peerless budding womanhood !    Continue reading “The Legend of the White Canoe by William Trumbull”

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