The Niagara River by Elsie Stevens

stevens

stevens
The Niagara River and Falls, showing the Schoellkopf Power Plant (left) and the Ontario Power Plant (at base of Horseshoe Falls). Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

How many ages did it thunder
This gathering of four inland seas,
Rushing onward to the ocean,
Through a maze of forest trees?

Three hundred years have come and gone
Since Hennepin recorded the scene,
“It was like an Alpine torrent” he wrote
How glorious it must have been.

In and along this winding river
History has been made,
Indians fighting for their country
White men for fame and trade.

The once great barrier now is harnessed,
To give home owners heat and light,
But in its primeval solitude
It was a wondrous sight.

Now there is no dense forest,
No bear, wolf or bounding deer,
But the meandering Niagara river,
Brings joy all through the year!

Source:  RG 18, Women’s Literary Club of St. Catharines Fonds, 1892-1996, Brock University Archives, Brock University. [1978?]

Elsie Stevens was an active member of the Women’s Literary Club of St. Catharines for many years.

A note on the date: Stevens refers to 300 years “since Hennepin recorded the scene.” Hennepin was in Niagara in December, 1678.

The Cormorant by Keith Inman

inman

inman
Keith Inman.

She sailed
over the thundering
water to hover

in the rising plume
of a million mirrors glinting
with sunlight

as the ever-wall
of water fell
like a trick of curtains
and hidden doors

she was gone.

From our table rock view
we scanned the vast
crescent down
to where rapids eased
into churned foam

and there
bare-rolling to the surface
she bobbed
shaking her feathers out

bowing the fish in her beak
to the light.

 

Source: The Author, 2019

Inman‘s favourite lit class was in Ireland (on Joyce); best reading, a cafe in Spain; coolest invite, LA; most interesting editor, from Malta (NY based). Keith started writing over 30 years ago, attending writing courses and programs through Niagara libraries and institutions. His work has won multiple awards and grants. Two of his books, ‘The War Poems’, and ‘SEAsia’, both from Black Moss Press, can be found in major libraries across North America and in Europe. Home is Thorold, where ships climb the continent.

Untitled by John G. Saxe

saxe

saxe
Niagara River Whirlpool. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

See Niagara’s torrent pour over the height,
‡‡How rapid the stream! how majestic the flood
Rolls on, and descends in the strength of his might,
‡‡As a monstrous great frog leaps into the mud!

Then, see, o’er the waters, in beauty divine,
‡‡The rainbow arising, to gild the profound 
The Iris, in which all the colours combine,
‡‡Like the yellow and red in a calico “gownd!”

How splendid that rainbow!  how grand is the glare
‡‡Of the sun through the mist, as it fervently glows,
When the spray with its moisture besprinkles the air
‡‡As an old washerwoman besprinkles her clothes!

Then, see, at the depth of the awful abyss,
‡‡The whirlpool careering with limitless power,
Where the waters revolve perpetually round.
‡‡As a cooper revolves round a barrel of flour!

The roar of the waters! sublime is the sound
‡‡Which forever is heard from the cataract’s steep!
How grand! how majestic! how vast! how profound!
‡‡Like the snore of a pig when he’s buried in sleep!

The strong mountain oak and the tall towering pine,
‡‡When plunged o’er the steep with a crack and a roar,
Are dashed into atoms ― to fragments as fine
‡‡As a pipe when ‘t is thrown on a hard marble floor!

And O! should some mortal ― how dreadful the doom!―
‡‡Descend to the spot where the whirlpool carouses,
Alas! he would find there a rocky tomb,
‡‡Or, at least, he’d be likely to fracture his “trowsers!”

Source: Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery Adjacent. Buffalo: Steam Press of Thomas and Lathrops, copyright by Jewett, Thomas & Co.,1856c.1848

Niagara To Its Visitors by H. Lindsay

lindsay

lindsay
Devil’s Hole Rapids, as seen along Great Gorge Route, 1910. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

O ye, who come from distant climes,
To visit me and read my rhymes,
Ere you condemn my noise and vapor,
Read what I have to say on paper.
Through LAKE SUPERIOR, it true is,
I descend from old ST. LOUIS.
I’m a wise child, you see, and rather
Proud to know and own my father.
MICHIGAN nurses me in her lap;
HURON feeds me with SAGINAW pap;
ST. CLAIR then undertakes to teach,
And tries to modulate my speech.
Through ERIE next I guide my stream,
And learn the power and use of steam.
I’m christened next, but losing my humble-
Ness, I get an awkward tumble.
And though musicians all agree,
I pitch my loud outcry on E,
Sure two such tumbles well may vex,
And make me froth up Double X.
Although the rapids rather flurry me,
And into the wheeling whirlpools hurry me,
The Devil’s Hole does most me scare, I oh!
And makes me glad to reach
 ONTARIO.
Traveled so far ‘t is thought of vital
Importance I should change my title;
And though it should be his abhorrence,
They make my sponsor old St. Lawrence.
The course I steer is rather critical,
For, not much liking rows political,
‘Twixt both my favors I divide —
Yankee and British, on each side.
And wandering ‘mongst the “Thousand Isles,”
With equable and constant motion,
I gladly run to meet the ocean.
Once my deep cavern was a mystery,
But now ‘t is known like Tom Thumb’s history,
By ladies, gents, natives and strangers,
Led on by Barnett through my dangers,
And come to try my “cold without;”
While those who like it best can get
A good supply of “heavy wet.”
I fear no money-broker’s pranks —
They’re welcome to run on my banks,
I pay no money nor “mint drop,”
Yet dare them all to make me stop.
I’m proof against malignant shafts;
Am ready still to honor drafts;
Have a large capital afloat,
More current than a U.S. note;
And I can liquidate all debt,
Though much is dew from me; and yet,
About myself I often vapor —
But ne’er before have issued paper.
You may think this a brag or a
Boast of        Truly Yours,         
NIAGARA.

Falls Hall Cave, half past 11, July 25th, 1837.

Source: Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery Adjacent. Buffalo: Steam Press of Thomas and Lathrops, 1856c.1848

See other poems in the Table Rock Album

The Hermit of Niagara by Professor James A. Martling

martling

martling
Francis Abbott Drowning in Niagara River. From Osgoode Bradbury, Francis Abbott; or, The Hermit of Niagara: A Tale of the Old and New World.  1846

“Though in thy veil of mist thou hid’st from me,
‡‡Thy glistening footsteps have I hither tracked :
Here on this rock I sit and wait for thee —
‡‡Thee love, thou Spirit of the Cataract.
O list again my tale of constancy !

“I’ve dreamed of thee since boyhood.   I have thought
‡‡Of thee at midnight, when beneath the stars
The whole earth slept, and thou hast been inwrought
‡‡Into my daytime reveries on the cloudy cars
Which sailed the sky with happy breezes fraught.

“And I have heard thy voice come calling me
‡‡When underneath the rustling beech I lay,
And watched the wave that to the terraced knee
‡‡Of the green hill leaped, hound-like, then away
Along the sands went gambolling toward thee.

“And I have thought that all things sought for thee ;
‡‡For thee the Sun climbed up the eastern shore,
Fresh bathed from the Atlantic’s purity,
‡‡And weaved thee rainbow garlands, and threw o’er
Thy form, of sheen and gold a gorgeous drapery.

“I have not sought the circles of the gay,
‡‡Where wanton beauty half unveiled is whirled
In the mad dance, by passionate youths that pay
‡‡Their amorous glances ; nor to breasts impearled
Nor all their wealth of charms are eyes forbid to stray.

“Nor could halls of learning, — nor the stage
‡‡Rich with enchantment, where the poet’s soul
Hath shed its affluence, — nor the voice of sage
‡‡Dewy with scripture, weaken thy control,
Nor me from my devotion disengage.

“Nor love, nor wine, nor song, nor power, nor gold
‡‡Nor the sweet glimpses of domestic bliss
That wooed me oft !   No, thy caresses cold
‡‡And pure embraces, and the frequent kiss
That falls like rain, dearer than all I hold !

“Thou hast all power, all passion in thyself
‡‡Thou Spirit of the Cataract, and I gaze
Where leap the waters from their rocky shelf
‡‡Down the abyss to thee with no amaze,
For thy charms lure sea-sprite and mountain-elf.

“The spirits of the mountain peaks, that keep
‡‡The hidden treasures of the mighty west,
Steal down the moonlit rivulets to peep
‡‡Upon the beauty of thy snowy breast
Unveiled amid the tossings of thy sleep.

“The spirits that collect the dews, and fill
‡‡The broad lakes, fill them for my love alone,
Their purity but equals thine : distil
‡‡The stars on thee their light, and o’er thy throne
Scatter the radiance of their holy bill.

“No more delay, my destiny divine,
‡‡But give the token of my speedy bliss :
I know my life shall be drawn into thine
‡‡Even as my whole heart already is :
And yet I wait the anticipated sign.

“Three happy yet three weary months have seen
‡‡Me waiting in my strange novitiate,
O love, thou knowest how constant I have been
‡‡Watching and waiting at the diamond gate
That flashes me and my pure love between.

“She comes !   She comes !   I see the radiant star
‡‡Upon her brow — the glory of her face !
She comes !   She comes !   she lifts the silver bar !
O love, in thine my arms I interlace,
And we forever more united are !”

Source: Professor James Abraham Martling. Poems of Home and Country. Boston: James H. Earle, Publisher, 1885