Niagara by Father James B. Dollard

Niagara by Frederic Edwin Church
Incessantly thy waters thus have rolled
    Through the dim aeons of unmeasured Time,
    While God was fashioning His work sublime,
Or ere His sulphurous forges could grow cold!
When Egypt loved Osiris and retold
    His charmed birth from out Nilotic slime,
    When Chaldea read the stars, and Homer's rhyme
Was yet undreamt -- Niagara thundered bold.

So night and day throughout coverging years
    Hoarse voices rose above the hissing spray
        Scaring the lonely Indian on the shore!
These bellowing chasms harbored nameless fears --
    Demons and dragons in contorted play
        Lashing the frightened waters evermore!

Source: Rev. James B. Dollard. Poems. Toronto: The Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada, 1910.

About Father Dollard

Loretto Convent, Niagara Falls by Father James B. Dollard

Loretto Convent, c1910

I look below;  Niagara’s torrent white
    Is eager hurrying to the dread abyss;
    I hear its thunder as the waters hiss
Over the awful brink, to plunge from sight
In seething spray!   Confusion at its height
    Is pictured there; but even on convent walls
    The radiant glow of even gently falls
And all is harmony and holy quiet!

Like some blest soul on Heaven that ever dreams,
    Bending its chastened look beyond the skies,
        Regardless of the tumults of the world;
So, crowned with peace this cloistered abbey seems,
    And on its peerless heights serene doth rise,
        While deep below the raging floods are hurled!

Source: Rev. James B. Dollard. Poems. Toronto: The Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada, 1910.

At Niagara Falls by Anson G. Chester

In the Maytime, at Niagara,
As a Sabbath morning broke,
Full of glory, peace and beauty,
From his dreams the sleeper woke.

All was quiet, save the thunder
That forever there prevails —
That, throughout the gathering ages,
Never pauses, never fails.

But the thunder of the torrent
Of a sudden died away,
Just as if a spell of silence
On the rampant waters lay.

For a robin, at the casement,
Trilled its carols sweet and strong,
And he heard the roar no longer —
It was vanquished by the song!

On thine ear the roar and tumult
Of the noisy world must fall,
But a little song of love and trust
Will overcome it all.

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

 Originally published in Poets and Poetry of Buffalo. 1904.

Niagara by John Campbell, Duke of Argyll

A ceaseless, awful, falling sea, whose sound
Shakes earth and air, and whose resistless stroke
Shoots high the volleying foam like cannon smoke!
How dread and beautiful the floods, when crowned
By moonbeams on their rushing ridge, they bound
Into the darkness and the veiling spray;
Or jewel-hued and rainbow-dyed, when day
Lights the pale torture of the gulf profound!

So poured the avenging streams upon the world
When swung the ark upon the deluge wave,
And oer each precipice in grandeur hurled,
The endless torrents gave mankind a grave.
Gods voice is mighty, on the water loud,
Here, as of old, in thunder, glory, cloud!

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

Originally published: Argyll, Memories of Canada and Scotland, Montreal, 1884.

To Niagara by J. S. Buckingham

(written at the first sight of its falls, August 13, 1837)

Hail! Sovereign of the world of floods! whose majesty and might
First dazzles, then enraptures, then o’erawes the aching sight:
The pomp of kings and emperors, in every clime and zone,
Grows dim beneath the splendour of thy glorious watery throne.

No fleets can stop thy progress, no armies bid thee stay,
But onward, — onward, — onward, — thy march still holds its way;
The rising mists that veil thee as thy heralds go before,
And the music that proclaims thee is the thund’ring cataract’s roar.

Thy diadem’s an emerald, of the clearest, purest hue,
Set round with waves of snow-white foam, and spray of feathery dew;
While tresses of the brightest pearls float o’er thine ample sheet,
And the rainbow lays its gorgeous gems in tribute at thy feet.

Thy reign is from the ancient days, thy sceptre from on high;
Thy birth was when the distant stars first lit the glowing sky;
The sun, the moon, and all the orbs that shine upon thee now,
Beheld the wreath of glory which first bound thine infant brow.

And from that hour to this, in which I gaze upon thy stream,
From age to age, in Winter’s frost or Summer’s sultry beam,
By day, by night, without a pause, thy waves, with loud acclaim,
In ceaseless sounds have still proclaim’d the Great Eternal’s name.

For whether, on thy forest banks, the Indian of the wood,
Or, since his day, the red man’s foe on his fatherland has stood;
Whoe’er has seen thine incense rise, or heard thy torrents roar,
Must have knelt before the God of all, to worship and adore.

Accept, then, O Supremely Great! O Infinite! O God!
From this primeval altar, the green and virgin sod,
The humble homage that my soul in gratitude would pay
To Thee whose shield has guarded me through all my wandering way.

For if the ocean be as nought in the hollow of thine hand,
And the stars of the bright firmament in thy balance grains of sand;
If Niagara’s rolling flood seems great to us who humbly bow,
O Great Creator of the Whole, how passing great art Thou!

But though thy power is far more vast than finite mind can scan,
Thy mercy is still greater shown to weak, dependent man:
For him thou cloth’st the fertile globe with herbs, and fruit, and seed;
For him the seas, the lakes, the streams, supply his hourly need.

Around, on high, or far, or near, the universal whole
Proclaims thy glory, as the orbs in their fixed courses roll;
And from creation’s grateful voice the hymn ascends above,
While heaven re-echoes back to earth the chorus – “God is love.”

Source: The Falls of Niagara. Toronto: James Campbell, 1859.