Untitled by Anonymous

careering
Below Table Rock, Niagara. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Niagara, Niagara — careering in its might,
The fierce and free Niagara shall be my theme to-night !
A glorious theme — a glorious home, Niagara, are mine ;
Heaven’s fire is on thy flashing wave, it’s thunder blends with thine.
The clouds are bursting fearfully, the rocks beneath me quiver :
But thou unscathed ar’t hurrying on, for ever and for ever.
Years touch thee not, Niagara — thou art a changeless thing,
For still the same deep roundelay thy solemn waters sing.

Source: Dr. Thomas Rolph. A Brief Account, Together With Observations, Made During a Visit in the West Indies, and a Tour Through the United States of America, in Parts of the Years 1832-3; Together With a Statistical Account of Upper Canada. Dundas, U.C. : G. Heyworth Hackstaff, Printer, 1836.

Rolph mentions this poem was written in the Table Rock Album; it is not published in Thomas & Lathrop’s excerpts from the Table Rock Album. Rolph would have been looking at the original.

Niagara River and Falls by The Bard of Niagara (J.B. Waid)

bard
J.B. Waid, “The Bard of Niagara”
Pleasant, peaceful, quiet river,
Limpid, constant, onward ever,
    Gentle waters roll away ;
Calm as summer, bright as morning,
Not a look, or sign of warning,
    Naught of danger dost thou say,
But gliding along, mild and strong,
               To the Rapids.
                    Then
Sporting, murm'ring, tossing, splashing,
Storming, raving, crossing, dashing,
    Troubled waters fret away ;
Hasting, pushing, staving, darting,
Islands mad'ning thee to parting,
    Yet thy tumult cannot stay;
But, tearing along, mad and strong,
               To the chasm.
                    Then
Curving, bending, bursting, breaking,
Sliding, leaping, rushing, quaking,
    Flying waters dart away ;
Flashing, sparkling, wailing, rumbling,
O'er the brink an ocean tumbling,
    To a world of foam and spray,
Fierce shooting along, proud and strong,
               We see thee now
                     In
Stately grandeur, awful wonder,
Hear thy voice in terms of thunder;
    Falling waters roar away,
Pouring, showering, misting, streaming,
Rob'd in rainbow colors beaming,
    Deck'd by Sol's, or Luna's ray,
Swift plunging along, grand and strong,
               To the bottom.
                    Then
Foaming, boiling, surging, thrashing,
Breaching, swelling, heaving, crashing,
    Furious waters foam away,
Babbling, roaring, brawling, curling,
Gurgling, wailing, whisking, whirling ;
    Fanciful thy currents play,
Still pressing along, bold and strong,
               Dimpling, pouting.
                    Then
Gathering, kissing, whispering, hushing,
Panting, smiling, frisking, rushing,
    Lovely waters roll away ;
Winding, eddying, purling, playing,
Lakeward still, and never staying,
    Rustling on thy shining way ;
Free coursing along, calm and strong,
               Soon to mingle
                    With
Ontario's tideless waters—
Long to be thy prison quarters ;
    Noble river die away.
But I err, a poet's blunder,
Still I hear thy deaf'ning thunder ;
    Here thou art, and here must stay
World-wide wonder, mighty, strong
      Niagara !

Source: J.B. Waid. Variety : Poetry and Prose. Montreal : J. Lovell, 1872.
Waid, born 1804, was (self?)styled The Bard of Niagara

Niagara by Bruce Bond

And then the husband, head bowed, eyes closed,
a tourist pamphlet in his lap, says,

bond
Bruce Bond. Courtesy of the author

did you know the green color of the water
is the color of the falls coming to an end.

And the bride says, you do not look good, love,
pale as an angel. Are you sleeping well,

eating well. Did you know, he says,
sixty tons of salt and rock flour drain

each minute, a foot each year, and in a thousand
lifetimes, there will be no falls at all.

And the bride takes the pamphlet from his hands
and folds it tenderly as if it were a thing

she loved and worried over. Did you know,
he says on the verge of sleep that never arrives,

the end of his sentence carried out to sea.
And the rainbow comes and goes according

to the clouds. And when it comes, the petals
of the cameras open, as they did just now.

And somewhere in a stranger’s photograph,
the man turns to the woman and says, did you

know. And she says, no, dear, I did not.
Or was it, yes, I did. Either way

her palm on his brow is a bridal veil
of water. It cures the sleepless, that sound.

It is the angel in the downpour, the coin
so old it passes faceless through our hands.

And with that, the couple vanishes.
And a thousand tons of mist rises and falls.

Source: Prairie Schooner, Spring 2018

Bruce Bond is the author of twenty-three books including, most recently, Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (U of MI, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, U of Tampa, 2016), Gold Bee (Helen C. Smith Award, Crab Orchard Award, SIU Press, 2016), Sacrum (Four Way, 2017), Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (L.E. Phillabaum Award, LSU, 2017), Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods (Elixir Book Prize, Elixir Press, 2018), Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions, 2018), and Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse, 2018).  Presently he is a Regents Professor of English at University of North Texas.

Wirewalker by John B. Lee

wallenda
Nik Wallenda Crossing Niagara Falls on a Tightrope Wire, June 15, 2012. Photo by Peter Conradi. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

he set out on the cable—walking
over Niagara Falls
as though balanced on a thread
in his electric-orange raiment
like a brilliant spider
on a silk
a lovely incandescent
Marbled Orbweaver
this Wallenda
a third-generation daredevil
slowing over the plumb weights
then quick as an arachnid in a rush
from suddenly seeing itself being seen
in a busy garden
confident and striding
until he entered
the complex crosswinds
where vapours plumed and swirled
in a wet smoulder
it was then he felt
the breath and push
of unanticipated weather
it was then
he began
to pray to the God of sparrows
the God of gulls
and wind-hovering hawks
as he felt
the nudge and mischief
that does not love
defiance
and the ineluctable perils
that blur the burning thorax
of the wirewalker

his heart
and the drum-echo
of its pulse
blooming at the wrist with the flesh stung blue
the image of ancestors
the long drop of their dying
into the damp tear-gather of ghosts
the grey sorrow of rain pooling
in the long veins of an upcurled leaf
the thirsting lifeline
of a widow’s palm
what morbid wishfulness
hushes in us all
though we’re carried
by his brave motion
we also long in the deep plunge
of a common faith to go
roaring over the emerald edge
as we fall beyond knowing

Source: The author. “The Wirewalker” was previously published in my book The Full Measure (Black Moss Press, 2017) and then in my book Beautiful Stupid: poems selected and new (Black Moss Press, 2018)

John B. Lee  is the Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford in perpetuity and Poet Laureate of Norfolk County for life.

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.