The Niagara River by Elsie 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.

Lines On Reading That the Only Words Spoken…. by Anonymous


On reading that the only words spoken by the young lady recently killed at the Falls, after the accident, were — “Let me” —

The Bride of Death; by Thomas Jones Barker Victoria Art Gallery

“Let me,” and here the fast receding breath
‡‡Denied the power of utterance — the throb
Of that young heart grew faint.    Ah, reckless Death,
‡‡How didst thou then of hope surviving bosoms rob!

What was the wish thus less than half expressed,
‡‡That latest image of the aching brain,
Imprisoned in the fair young sufferer’s breast,
‡‡Without the strength to burst the feeble chain.

Was it a prayer that she might longer live,
‡‡Addressed to Him who holds the scroll of fate?
Or did she wish a parting thought to give
‡‡In trust to those that watching, round her wait?

Some fond remembrance of her distant home,
‡‡Where late perhaps maternal love had shed
Its hallowed flame, — and when resolved to roam
‡‡Had breathed a farewell blessing on her head.

Ah, who so fitting now to claim her thoughts,
‡‡As she whose hand sustained her helpless years?
Oh, that the action of that hand, were brought,
‡‡To wipe, with tender care, those dying tears.

See, in this theatre of nature’s might,
‡‡In boundless strength the dashing waters rush,
With headlong fury o’er the dizzy height,
‡‡And threaten e’en the solid rock to crush.

But mark the contrast!   On that bed of pain
‡‡The form reclines of nature’s noblest art,
Whose strongest energy is spent in vain,
‡‡To breathe the last conception of her heart.

Great Ruler of the destinies of Man!
‡‡Teach us to reverence thy dark decree;
Forgive the daring murmur at thy plan,
‡‡And make us yield and humbly trust to thee.

The last words of the dying girl may be
‡‡The first to form the Christian’s hopeful prayer;
Trusting her happy spirit is with thee;
‡‡He cries, “O Father ‘Let me’ join her there.”

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

The Cormorant by Keith 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


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

On the Same* by George Menzies

menzies roll 

menzies roll
Niagara Falls, 1818 by Louisa Davis Minot

Roll on, mysterious river, in thy might,
Awakening dreams of terrible delight,
Or thrilling fear, and turning into naught
All that hath e’er been sketched in human thought
Of beauty and of grandeur — God hath thrown
A glorious girdle round thee — God alone
Can curb thy restless torrent — He who gave
His voice of thunder to thy rushing wave,
And built on foam the bright prismatic bow
That sheds its glory on the gulf below —
Yea, He whose path is in the secret deep,
Shall lull thy troubled spirit into sleep,
Still as a wearied babe that’s on the breast
Of yearning love is cradled into rest.

Chippewa, Nov. 9, 1834.

*Untitled in Table Rock Album.  The poem is published immediately after the poem Lines Written in the Album of The Table Rock, Niagara Falls in The Posthumous Works of the Late George Menzies.

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

Also published in George Menzies. The Posthumous Works of the Late George Menzies: Being a Collection of Poems, Sonnets, &c., &c., Written at Various Times When the Author was Connected With the Provincial Press. Woodstock: Printed by John Douglass, 1850

Biography of George Menzies