Spring (In Forests Near Niagara) by Evelyn M. Watson

watson spring  

watson spring
Paradise Oak Park, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1933. Photo courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library

(Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada)

How long have people smiled concerning Spring
And poets who make to her, an offering. . . .
As from the nascent mold, in thunder-riven
And water-tortured stone, a tree is given
So may my song be radiant — (for a season)
A shad-bush shining, its roots in earth’s old lesion,
Its bole, gray-brown, against the ice-blue sky,
Its fragrant festal torches swinging high. . .
So I ……………………………………. (if that I could, so I!)

And too, I’d give to you the water-song
Of surging streams that swiftly slip along
The silvered course, each rock a native gem,
But better, far, if that you visit them.
Oh, could I sketch, in fire, this ultimate
Outstanding loveliness, I’d hesitate
And with old reverence grow wisely mute
For Soul must see — there lives no substitute,
In words, for that first glossy green
Which garlands fairy twigs and springs between
Dark pads of moss, where even color smoulders
Like match-tip violets ‘mong ashen boulders
And here’s the flame of lingering snow, not wint’ry,
But evanescent crystals (gay and splint’ry
Encrustings) — vanishing in a rime of dew —
Those common beauties mind’s accustomed to.
Who claims we need more outer loveliness ?
We seek more poet-hearts, more consciousness
Of Inner Spring, till icy bonds must burst
And souls grow greatly with new hunger, thirst.

The early stars within their patterned fret,
The Dawn’s pastel from poplar minaret,
Have wrought, within, devout serenity
Yet stir me to a praying psalmody —
Where gray-cowled friar has chiseled deep
In rocks, the mystery of change and sleep
And death, one finds the sculptured esplanade
Brings near the warming sense of needed God.
And if it be the Day with jeweled light
Or that recurving dome of crystal night,
It seems not banal thus to pause to write
Of dusky folks who followed flowered trails
And ghostly paths where even twilight fails —
From legendary past they softly come
And pass to greet their own Elysium.
But here is present heaven, here are we
Aware of Paradise, and Instancy !
Awakened, as by sight of one quick tree —
The future, vision-wise, unspells, unfolds,
As some closed bud must yield its pollen golds
At last — as meditative moments flower
In lifted torches — so Spring’s lighted hour
Is like Annunciation, a held flood,
Or new-veiled ecstacies within the bud.

The Virgin’s season,  The Woman’s pregnant sign !
For wandering beams of beauty, fierce, divine,
Have stabbed earth vitally and she, the sheath
Of life’s triumphant sword, bears underneath
Her nuptial robes, so delicate and sheer,
The Living seed that justifies the year.

So now, the soul of Him seems even nearer
Than one’s own face within the curdled mirror
Of fretted water ; the lifted shad-flowers seem
To chord the melody of flame-blue stream
That chimes its silvery way among still rocks.
From fire-deep skies the migratory flocks
Of troubadors, those gay-winged messengers,
Now find cathedral lofts in oaks and firs,
And where June-berry censer sways and blows
They tell of Love in oratorios.

Delicate, wind-borne, is fragrance coming
To rhyme of wings, the hurrying and humming
Of insect life, in gossamer like elves,
Magicked from folded fronds on stony shelves.
And night, blue-velvet cloaked, and diamonded
But finds the clustered pearly shad-blooms hid
Against the moon’s serener, even pearl,
Or in an aureole of mist, a swirl
Of cloudy plumes that heavenly horsemen wear,
Notes Boreal spears and hears the whispering prayer
Of Spring, the Maiden-Joan, (the youthful saint,
Who frees the ice-hard earth, without complaint,
Who buds and flowers while from a stricken pyre
Rekindles earth with that triumphant fire.)

Then as shad-flowers fall, and deep desire
Must fade in fruiting, so the poet dies
Shadowed by graces he’d apostrophize.
The poet rill would bubble small, swift rhymes
As shad flowers, dying, sway like silent chimes.
Better the quiet bloom among tall trees
Lyric with their own mute symphonies —
Better the fallow deer in solitude —
The dun hare and shadowy squirrel that elude
The note of man — better the fronds that push
‘Gainst sleeping roots of some sky-seeking bush,
Than that I lift my tuneless voice to sing —
The world is right — to smile at songs of Spring.

 

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

watson spring

Niagara on the Lake by Frank McNie

See Fort George, hear cannon roar

imagine all that’s gone before,
then stroll through time and back again
just to be there both now and then.

Sip some wine enjoy a tour
or perhaps a spa to take a cure,
A short drive to see The Falls..
while all around you nature calls,
At the casino take a chance
Perhaps ‘Lady Luck’ will ask to dance.

World class hotels, great B & B’s,
Country Inns all geared to please,
fine restaurants and Queen street shopping
still you’re poised for border hopping
Golf, cycling, sailing for those who care
or a shaded porch, a good book, an easy chair.

Quaint little houses made of ginger bread,
museums, grande estates
show how life was led.
Antiques and butterflies galore,
fairy sightings by the shore.
How wonderful all this might seem,
enough for any mortal dream.

Then …” The Shaw Theatre…”

 

Source: ElectricScotland.com, 2004.

The River None Believe by John B. Lee

 

John B Lee
John B. Lee / theOntariopoetrysociety.ca

I think of the Niagara
and if I say
“the river it seems remembers nothing”
and you might say
“What?” you might say “are you crazy?”
and if I say
“well, the War of 1812 was fought here
from mouth to source
and it was
the worst conflict, the most violent
ever fought by Europeans
right here on Canadian soil…
not as ‘remember the Alamo’
but as ‘remember Lundy’s Lane'”
the heat of battle
to the death–the worst in North America
until the Civil War
yet if you travel now
to the sight
it’s like hardening of the arteries
of history
it’s carnival traffic, tarmac
and the roar of a frothy falls
full of whisky barrel values
like empty thread spools
dangling from a mad tailor
and all you see
is Blondin on his tight rope
over the rapids
not the red wind
of a single crimson night
how many summers ago
and gone
and if I say
“go to the heights above Burlington Bay
and listen for those headless ghosts
of eight men hanged
go to Queenston
and watch the far banks
for the bad boats
go to Newark/Niagara
and look for the conflagration
listen for the hiss of torches
and the crash of blackened rafters
go to little St. David’s
ride there on a dead horse
trample the vineyards
watch for the wine stain
in the blight of fire and ink
and if by
the echo of a wet rock
if by the strangled cry
of some turning eddy
foaming round in eternal rubble
wearing the shape of the flow
perilous enough
to the jarred heel
to spin a man’s craft
and crack his memory loose
as quick as a war club will
and if I look
to this land
and see
how a man is missed
as if he were never there
how his shape might drop away
like a walker in the fog
some phantom colour fading in the mist
with a ragged twin
of someone watching from the other way
what of this
this earth that holds us
this deeper gravity
this float of stones
these stories
dead tongues tell?

 

Source: The Author, 2001.

John B. Lee. From In the Terrible Weather of Guns  [manuscript]

William Kirby by Fisher Davidson

william kirby

william kirby
William Kirby, 1817-1906. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

In old Niagara town, long aisles of ancient trees
Stand sentinel along the storied ways,
Tall, sturdy patriarchs of other days,
Whose busy leaves are ever whispering memories.
And one there was who walked beneath their arching shade:
True, gallant type of Christian gentleman,
He, faithful, passed the full, allotted span
Within this hoary town whose cause his own he made;
And always at his side there moved a shadowy throng:
Simcoe and Brock and noble Addison,
All who with axe and plough and sword and gun,
Laid firm its deep foundations that have lasted long,
All who, sojourning in this place, did love it well.
He was like to the Roman Livy, he
Who loved his town and ever strove to be
Worthy its great traditions and its annals tell.
So let his country keep his memory one pure sheen,
And bring him, there beside the ivied wall,
Beneath still other forest-veterans tall,
French whites and English roses, ‘twined with Maple green.

Source: E.J. Pratt, (ed). Canadian Poetry Magazine. vol. 6, no. 1, December 1941.