Niagara; A Poem by a Member of the Ohio Bar


Below Table Rock, Niagara, Drawn From Nature. Published by Hermann J. Meyer. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library



Source:  A Member of the Ohio Bar. Niagara; A Poem. New York: Edward O. Jenkins, 1848.  Full text copy from The Hathi Trust, permanent link

The Niagara River by Kay Ryan

Cover of The Niagara River by Kay Ryan

As though
the river were
a floor, we position
our table and chairs
upon it, eat, and
have conversation.
As it moves along,
we notice—as
calmly as though
dining room paintings
were being replaced—
the changing scenes
along the shore. We
do know, we do
know this is the
Niagara River, but
it is hard to remember
what that means.

Kay Ryan, the sixteenth Library of Congress’ Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, has published a book of poetry with its title taken from her poem The Niagara River. The Niagara Falls Poetry Project has received permission to post this poem.

Information about the book can be found on Grove Atlantic’s website and on Goodreads .

Kay Ryan reads from and discusses The Niagara River starting at 16:20

Listen to a podcast about The Niagara River from Mark Scarborough, host of Lyric Life.

On the Bridge at Chippawa by David Hobberlin


Diving off the Weightman Bridge in Chippawa, 1970s. Photo courtesy of the Niagara Falls Public Library

I love to experience the wind at Chippawa
whenever the Westerly blows strong.
How it presses back the eager boughs.
How it scuffs the tops of the water crests
that so mark the dark river’s frown.
How it seeks to scour this single bridge
that spans the narrows still.
How it empties itself where the Niagara begins.
How it sweeps and then swoops and then curls…
How it harbors all my longing
when it enters the cataract’s pull.
How it soars above the majestic gorge.
How it disperses the spray of a rainbow arc
before flying headlong toward the whirlpool of fate;
there to add to the mix of the new with the old
in a breach as endless as time can permit.
How it encourages joy from where ever it dwells
to flavor one’s hope, one’s heart, and one’s dream.
How it cleanses my spirit.
How it clings to my will.

May, 2020
Source: David Hobberlin
I am a Canadian poet currently living in Chippawa. Over the years my poems have appeared in a number of anthologies and periodicals beginning with the anthology ‘Canadian Poets of 1969’.

The poem ‘On the Waterfront of Toronto’ earned the Monica Ladell Award 2012 for best poem presented by the Scarborough Arts Society.

I have participated in various poetry readings and venues held in Toronto, Scarborough, Welland, St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls.

Grey Borders Books published three chapbooks of my poetry – Inanna  (A Tale of Sumer),  Reflections on the Republic, and Going to Work on a Snowy Morning. Click to visit the David Hobberlin page on the Grey Borders Books website
The Indian Heritage Council of Morristown, Tennessee, published a limited edition chapbook ‘The Pipe Maker and Other Poems’ in the millennial year 2000..

Niagara Falls by Mrs. O. M. Livingston

The American Falls from Goat Island. Artist unknown. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Great wonder of Nature ! thy thunders I hear ;
Thy rush of wild waters before me. appear!
A majesty awful doth compass the mind,
The might of Jehovah around me I find.

In thy deep dreadful chasms thick volumes of spray,
In dense moving clouds mount the ether away,
Till hung like a sheet on the front of the sky,
Are mists that thy waters have sent up on high.

In caverns of foam thy bright rainbows are born,
Where green rolling rapids whirl under with scorn ;
These walls, which thy torrents together have stayed,
The hand of Omnipotence boldly hath laid.

Wert thou poured here, O Torrent, to thunder sublime,
To echo through ages the waning of time ?
Or millions to teach, who thy precincts have trod,
To doubt not the might and the wisdom of God ?

Source: Mrs. O. M. Livingston. Poems. New York: Printed at The Riverside Press, and for sale by Hurd and Houghton, 1868.

Niagara Falls by Jasper Barnett Cowdin


Gravestone of Jasper Barnett Cowdin

Solemnly, slowly, the vast weight of falling
‡‡Waters the voice of a spirit immortal
‡‡Drowns, — and he stands, as a Heaven’s great portal,
Humbled in sight of his low earthly calling.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Man hath no glory here;
‡‡Watching in silence thy soul-waking wonder,
‡‡O Niagara! — hearing thy thunder,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Pride must not come near.


Daily the magical gold incandescent
‡‡Sun makes thee glimmer, a gold-falling shower :
‡‡Nightly the silver-clad moon tries her power,
Changing thy dense rain of gems to liquescent
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Moonlight, that sparkling falls
‡‡In goblets upheld by spray-queens at revel,
‡‡Who shout with delight at the white downheaval
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡On their frail mist halls.


At the first shadowy dawn, when an angel
‡‡Looked from the shadow-land first on earth’s glory.
‡‡Eager to tell thy magnificent story,
Thou had’st already begun thine evangel.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Sheer from the cliff, half mist,
‡‡Thy waters leapt with the lightness of passion —
‡‡Leapt to the lake, and in amorous fashion
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Its blue bosom kissed.


They saw the experiment trial of sunrise
‡‡Waken the young, dewy lids of the morning;
‡‡Witnessed the sun’s rude attempt at adorning
His western cloud-canopy, taught by the One wise,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Great Artist in color;
‡‡Saw the strange moon look down in white wonder,
‡‡While, through the night watches, rolled the deep thunder
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Richer and fuller.


Time from his cradle-song went to the reaping; —
‡‡Onward the centuries roll to their falling
‡‡Into Oblivion’s deep. Yet appalling
As ever, thy power, its wild youth keeping,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Thunder and smoke downpours! —
‡‡Far from Ontario, recreant wooer!
‡‡But sending thy voice and white kisses to her
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Through thy sculptured shores.


Who were the mystical sons of creation
‡‡First to discover, bow down and adore thee,
‡‡Long ere the Indian, awestruck before thee,
Heard from the tall rock thy weird incantation?
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Monstrous forms of wild life
‡‡Came from the deep savage forest to listen;
‡‡Fearless gray eagles, with wings all a-glisten,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Plunged amid thy strife!


Vanished the Mound Builders, leaving dim traces
‡‡Of their past glory; the Indian faded —
‡‡His long-fallen armies slumber degraded
Along thy murmuring shores — and weird faces
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Rapid Fancy can see,
‡‡Countless and brown as the leaves of November:
‡‡Mingled they lie with the mammal’s white member
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And fossil of tree.


Chant of the cataract, never out-dying,
‡‡Voice like the Deathless One, constantly sending
‡‡Music far down the dim canyon, soft blending
With dreams of the dead in the vale low-lying —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Grown accustomed to hear
‡‡Thy soothing lullaby through the long ages,
‡‡The thrilled cyclopean forms of old sages
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Lend a throbbing ear.


Should thy wild avalanche pause for a season,
‡‡Dim crowding faces would start up from slumber,
‡‡Out from long galleries look without number,
Anxiously look up the gorge for the reason
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of this, their strange unrest;
‡‡Wondering at the dead silence around them,
‡‡Grumbling at the rude shock which unbound them
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And left them unblest.


Dies not thy deafening peal of divineness,
‡‡Till the dread trumpeter from his high station
‡‡Calls for the curtain of black desolation
To cover the world and its tragical finis
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡In the night-hush of death.
‡‡Dread the solemnity, then, of all regions,
‡‡The world-drama ended, its skeleton legions
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Sleeping without breath.


Now is thy triumph-hour, crescent of madness!
‡‡Sweeping terrific in lofty descension
‡‡Down on my weak speck of humbled pretension,
Crushed like a swallow and drowned in thy gladness,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Lost under mightiest wave! —
‡‡Struggling yet bravely to keep my immortal
‡‡Spark in full sight, lest I faint at the portal
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of my vanquished grave.


Frail my mortality looks in thy presence;
‡‡Yet if I deemed that the God of all glory
‡‡Cared more for thee and thy wonderful story
Than for my handful of dust, all my pleasance
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡With Him would be at jar.
‡‡Off and away with the sorrowful presage!
‡‡The Man-God whispers within me this message:
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡“Thou art dearer far.”


At the euthanasy-hour of creation
‡‡Thou shalt behold the last picture unfolden,
‡‡The sun’s masterpiece on his cloud-canvas golden.
His last grand splendor of gold and carnation,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡While my blind dust sleeps on —
‡‡Thou shalt be dead when I waken ecstatic!
‡‡Thy sun-given arch of glory prismatic
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Fade before my crown!


When the earth’s jewel-kin cease from their shining.
‡‡Perished the light over valley and river,
‡‡Thou shalt be silent, oh, silent forever,
Ere my long pæan hath scarce had beginning!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Around the song-swept SHRINE
‡‡No hint of thy littleness ever shall wander,
‡‡Impressive, jubilant thunders, far grander,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Fall from lips divine!

Source: Jasper Barnett Cowdin. Ripple Brook; Niagara Falls: Two Poems. Brooklyn: D.S. Holmes, Publisher, 1886.

Cowdin is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Port Jefferson, New York

See the book in Google Books