Niagara by Joseph Hart Clinch

Describe Niagara!     Ah, who shall dare
Attempt the indescribable, and train
Thoughts fragile wing to skim the heavy air,
Wet with the cataracts incessant rain?
The “glowing muse of fire invoked in vain
By Shakespeare, who shall hope from Heaven to win?
And burning words alone become the strain,
Which to the mind would bring the awful din
Where seas in thunder fall, and eddying oceans spin.

Long had the savage on thy glorious shroud,
Fringed with vast foam-wreaths, gazd with stoic eye
And deemed that on thy rising rainbow cloud
The wings of the Great Spirit hovered nigh;
And, as he marked the solemn woods reply
In echoes to thy rolling thunder tone,
He heard His voice upon the breeze go by,
And his heart bowed — for to the heart alone
God speaking through His works, makes what he utters known.

But ages passed away — and to the West
Came Europes sons to seek for fame or gold;
And one, perchance, more daring than the rest,
Lured by the chase or by strange stories told
By Indian guide of oceans downward rolled,
Felt on his throbbing ear thy far-off roar,
Then sped the mighty wonder to behold,
Thy voice around him and thy cloud before,
Till breathless — trembling — rapt — he trod thy foaming shore.
Continue reading “Niagara by Joseph Hart Clinch”

Niagara Falls by Kathryn Munro

Kathryn Munro
Kathryn Munro
On thundering feet you take the dread abyss,
      Shaking the stolid earth around, below,
      Where puny mortals gaze but may not know
The cosmic surge of elemental bliss,
The soaring passion of the lethal kiss
      That hides within your swift arterial flow.
      Most prodigal of waters, to bestow
So rich inheritance on man as this.
Niagara, the mighty, rainbow-spanned,
      Majestic, terrible your potency!
What aeons since He cupped you in His hand
      Who gave His space its wheeling argosy,
And bade you ride this rampart of our land
      Companionless, alone, eternally!

Source: V.B. Rhodenizer, (ed.) Canadian Poetry Magazine vol. 22, no. 3, Spring 1959.

About Kathryn Munro (married name Kathryn Munro Tupper)

Niagara by Charles Pelham Mulvany

(From the French of Louis Honoré Frechette)

Majestic moves the mighty stream and slow,
    Till from that false calm’s semblance, suddenly,
    Wild and with echoes shaking earth and sky,
The huge tide plunges in the abyss below,
— It is the cataract! from whose thunderous ire
    The wild birds flee in terror far away —
    From that dread gulf when with her scarf of fire
The rainbow sits above the torrent’s sway!
Earth quakes, for sudden that vast arching dome
    Of green is changed to hills of snow-white foam,
    That seethe and boil and bound in tameless pride.
Yet this Thy work, O God, Thy law fulfils,
And while it shakes the everlasting hills,
    It spares the straw that floats upon its tide.

Rose-Belford’s Canadian Monthly and National Review, July 1881, vol. 7, no. 1. Toronto: Rose-Belford Publishing Co., 1881. p. 26

Lines Written in Drummond Hill Cemetery by Ada Elizabeth Fuller

(The site of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in 1814)

Gravestone of Robert Randall,  Drummond Hill Cemetery, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Gravestone of Robert Randall, Drummond Hill Cemetery, Niagara Falls, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

The brooding voice of spring is in the air,
The mighty winds are hushed, are very still;
Within a burial ground I wind my way 
A sunny place upon a sunny hill.

I fain would read a legend here and there,
But Time has passed with his erasing hand;
And, on the battered stones that head these graves,
The half-intelligible letters stand.

The peace of God, which no man understands,
Beams kindly down upon the greening sod,
And, underneath, where sacred ashes lie
Of those whove gone before to meet their God.

Full many an unknown spirit lies at peace
With heart against the earths warm heart close-pressed:
Their dust, as ashes of the rose that lie,
Its perfume gone, fallen to earths soft breast.

The summer sky is kind to all alike,
And over all the skies are fair and clear;
And, in the solemn stillness of this hour,
It seems as if I were intruding here.

But no resentment these poor ashes feel,
For God has called their souls from here below;
And in this hour He speaks to my lone soul —
He seems to call and I could wish twere so.

But God has measured out my length of days,
And His sweet will is all in all to me.
O Father, guide my thoughts, my life, my soul,
To thy great glory, till Thou callest me!

Source: Kevin McCabe, ed. The Poetry of Old Niagara. St. Catharines, Ont. : Blarney Stone Books, 1999.

Originally published: Ada Elizabeth Fuller. Sunshine and Shadow. Niagara Falls, 1919.


Niagara Below the Cataract by Clara Jessup Moore

Clara Jessup Moore
Clara Jessup Moore

Within a temples towering walls I stand  ̶
    A temple vast; the heaven is its dome.
No corniced crag was hewn by human hand
    Nor by it wrought the tracery of foam;
The inlaid floor of emerald and pearl
    Heaves at the hidden organs thunderous peal,
While round and up the clouds of incense curl,
    Shrouding the chancel where the billows kneel.
Ah! bow your heads. It is a fitting place
    For solemn thought, for deep and earnest prayer;
For here the finger of our God I trace,
    Beneath, above, around me, everywhere;
He hollowed out this grand and mighty nave,
And robed his altar with the ocean wave!

Source: Moore, Clara Jessup. Miscellaneous Poems; Stories for Children; The Warden’s Tale; and Three Eras in a Life.  2nd ed.  Porter & Coates, 1875

Note: Moore used a variety of pseudonyms. This poem has also been published under the name Mrs. C. J. Moreton