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" 

The Niagara Gorge (as seen from the Whirlpool Cable Car) by Father James B. Dollard

Spanish Aero-Car (photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library)
Had Dante ever seen this prodigy,
This monstrous monument of Nature's wrath,
Then had he found new terrors to surround
The entrance to Inferno.  At the gate
A power invisible becomes our guide,
And our smooth car swings into the Abime.

The evening shades have fallen and a cloud,
Huge, threatening, and amorphous settles down,
Bridging the gulf. Lo! now assails our ears,
The hissing tumult of the floods that dash,
Writhing in agony, 'twixt iron walls,
O'er rude and tortuous beds!

        The uproar grows,
And the pent waters churning into foam,
Round adamantine boulders, scream aloud,
Till maddened past all bound, they end the note
In maniac glee!

        Above and all about,
Colossal cliffs their lithic brows uplift,
To the grim skies, and horror reigns supreme!
"Release!" "Release!" the torn waves howl beneath --
"Give us release!" -- and the harsh cliffs reply,
With mocking echoes -- their eroded breasts,
Gargantuan laughter shakes.

        And now our car
Leaves the dread scene, and up the wall's sheer side,
Climbs, groaning with vast effort, till we view,
From perilous height the black gulf far below,
And quake to ponder plunging down so steep,
To dire destruction!

        All at once there opes
A rocky portal, and we breathe relief,
For, lo! the streets, the windows, and the lights!
The newsboys' cries, the clatter of the town!

Source: Rev. James B. Dollard. Poems. Toronto: The Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada, 1910.

About Father Dollard