A “Stop-Over” at Niagara by Evelyn M. Watson

watson stopover

watson stopover
Crowds at the Victoria Park Station at the top of Clifton Hil, 1920l. Photo courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library

Yellow trolley cars like golden pumpkins
Disgorging Cinderellas (for the day,)
And young Prince Charmings, friendly country bumpkins…
(They recently were married, do you say?)

Bright bazaars with giddy banners flying —
Basilisks, gorgons, carved, or sphinx —
And gaudy postal cards just right for lying —
And here’s a fount of rosy, foolish drinks,

Niagara Falls emblazoned on a cup ;
And, in a sugar-shell, old fashioned scenes —
Once-regal Indians now lifting up
A beaded thing, the Waterfall in greens.

The raucous hawker in the street is quelled. . .
(Administration building ?   Left, sir. . . )
By that deep throbbing tone unparalleled
Authentic Voice that makes man’s pulses stir. . .

More Indians in the apses of the grove ;
The islands with their edges greenly shaded ;
And shy young couples — walking out — for love ?
Cabs and busses endlessly paraded.

The bridges where one pauses to inquire
Of very soul if eyes have seen aright ;
Sea-green, and speeding waters dripping fire —
The heavy masses slipping out of sight. . .

A far-set rocky isle by rustic bridge,
And then, within the river, one sharp jag
(Gull Island once ?  It seems vast privilege
To meditate — the mightiest so brag.)

And now, again, that climax of the trip,
Observed but only to benumb the sense ;
The pouring masses ceaselessly that slip
Into dread chasms of Magnificence. . . .


Source: Evelyn M. Watson. Poems of the Niagara Frontier. New York: Dean & Company, 1929.

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watson stopover

Remembering Victoria Park by Evelyn M. Watson

watson remembering  

watson remembering
Gateway to Victoria Park, Niagara Falls, Canada. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Let conversation seek the Beautiful —
Rhyming bird-wings, and that so-magic poise
Of nature’s flute-song, or cello music mellow,
Green-berried vines that edge a lapping pool
Where lily-stars are doubled, white and yellow :
And let me find the day’s own cadences —
Gay frocks, that flower upon a windy line,
That old-blue plate with cakes for tea: yes, these
Amenities that seem so wise and fine :
You see, my memory holds loveliness,
For I awoke among old forestries
Where trees were as endued with consciousness
Till, now, I find fresh grace when work is hard,
And learn to live the inner poetry. . . .
Of course, not as a known, exalted bard,
But from a spirit, tree-wise, lifted Thee !

Each season, now, there’s towering luxury
In “Ceremonial trips” among small hills :
About my place I plant, each year, some tree,
(Green foil for double-gold of daffodils) —
And, for each day, a ritual — some joy,
The crisp delight of this, so tiny lawn,
And curved flower-buds that well employ
Ecstatic tints from summer’s tenderest dawn ;

And yet it seems I scarcely paused until
I went afar for beauty — then I found
The very burgeoning from homey hill,
The self-same glory from my plot of ground;
From nuded winter’s boles to Spring’s small buds,
To summer’s windy leaves that dance and quiver,
I find The Beautiful — oh ! wide green floods,
Niagara-of-the-year, from Him, the Giver ;
And, though I go each season to the Fall,
Discovering one great Beauty, find it all !


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 remembering

The Colorist at Niagara by Evelyn M. Watson

watson colorist   

watson colorist
The Artist Sketching Niagara from Goat Island by James Pattison Cockburn, 1827. Colour tint by Erna Jahnke. Courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library

I’ve seen a heavenly despair,
An artist wrestling in prayer,
To find right colors, nicely blent
To show Niagara’s firmament,
Star-stippled, with the evening air
Stilled as if from some divine content.
And when the moon’s clear milky mist
Fell down on shadows, amethyst
And silver-blue, I’ve heard his sighs
Because such paradox defies
The reason — seems to puzzle, twist
The prying sight of Man’s too mortal eyes,
(To show, then spirit-off, the dazzling prize.)

And when the Dawn Maid brightly lifts
Her wide prismatic cup there drifts
A rose-wine tint that’s deftly played
On folded hues of lambent jade —
I’ve heard him ask for finer gifts
To fix forever sweeping gold light sprayed
Among noon’s burning shadows, speak
Of great gray gulls with open beak
And flame-edged wings that flaunt the spray
And that dread Call from far away —
“Death, too, were mine if that I seek
To fully represent the lure of Day —
Let others picture Viewless Light who may.”

The challenge of changing hours he sees,
And seasons passing among the trees,
A Processional of living tone
As lyric colors have outshone
Historic jewels — for filigrees
Of radiance have come from Him alone.
To imitate Night’s mauve, Dawn’s rose
That from the Day’s raised goblet flows
To paint this sweep of surging white,
That flowing green, this pouring light,
Is like the perilous way of those
Bewildered birds betrayed by careless sight,
Tempted too far in ecstasies of flight.

The moth that yearns the coaxing star,
Beats off its gold where gray winds are
Too grim, the teal on spray-drenched wings
Above the river, in spirallings,
Must heed, at last, that Call afar —
And so the foolish artist-heart that flings
Restraint aside and dreams to limn
Sheer color excellence — to him
Enough the tarnished-silver stone
Where tiny stars of mist are sown —
The hand must waver, even mind grow dim —
Nor is this tragedy his own — alone.

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 colorist

Salutation by Evelyn M. Watson

watson salutation
I. To Niagara

watson salutation
Niagara Falls (From near Clifton House), 1837, by W.H. Bartlett engraving by J. Cousen. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

‡‡‡“My heart is fixed; therefore I sing.” ― Bible

Niagara, my singing heart is fixed;
I love the rich contentment of your wood,
Your wind-scourged cliffs and that calm sisterhood
Of islands.    As man-birds crest the wind betwixt
The Falls and the farther skies, on azure highways,
So poets look from heights yet more sublime,
Inviting Nature-lovers from life’s byways
To experience beyond all touch of time,
Aware of rhythm in a heart that’s living
Become attuned to fuller consciousness
Exalting joys that consecrate and bless. . .
Niagara, we join your song Thanksgiving.

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡II   To the Public

Oh love the character of rocks, each tree
Along this course, each grot in solitude
With phantom—eerie ponds—the wind’s mood—
This thundering torrent in its majesty
With Nature’s attitude so grave and stern.
One feels the unity of truth and good
With beauty on life’s course—without return
Both condemnation and Beatitude.
Join now these staves of melody, the chording
Organ-tones with birds in blending choir—
And note heart-aching charms of misty fire:
May Memory receive each jewel for hoarding.

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 salutation

Summer Dresses by Jane Urquhart

urquhart summer

urquhart summer
Crown Trent bone china cup and saucer flowered Niagara Falls souvenir


flowered cups she drinks
her tea from
echo in her summer

she is an old woman
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡unlaced shoes

memory all around her
like the river of that vein
in one thin hand

against a powdered cheek

behind a cedar door
she feels compelled to organize
the souvenir of wardrobe

(her closet
with flowered cloth)

she understands the fabrics
of identity
and reaches for her pen again

the document survives for years


Source: Urquhart, Jane. False Shuffles. Victoria: Press Porcépic, 1982. Section entitled The Undertaker’s Bride. 

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