Sons of Adam by Patricia Borneman Dagle

Sons of Adam, watch!

Thundering clouds
over the roar of a thousand nights
smashing water
spilling mist on ancient rocks.

Tremors beget the moving form
created to carry men in God’s direction
yet,

Sons of Adam, Listen!

Building the Tower of Babel
dumb in spirit
yet brilliant in designing
a god to themselves

In the midst of futile human endeavor
stands a mighty warrior,
an ancient ghost
“Onguirahra! Noss oossima!”
tall, courageous
believing in a power
greater than that
which was created

Sons of Adam, look!

On mighty rushing wings
He raises his spear
and with one fell swoop
brings down
the concrete rocks.

and the river rises up
to greet Him
moving faithfully forward
with the thundering power of the falls.

Peace is restored
and a tree planted by the river
reaches its roots out
and grows among men’s ashes.

while the warrior
rests beneath its shade.
And is refreshed
in the cool depths
of Onguirahra!

 

Source: The author, July 8, 2001.

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.

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.

Niagara by Wallace Bruce

Proud swaying pendant of a crystal chain,
    On fair Columbia's rich and bounteous breast,
With beaded lakes that necklace-like retain
    Heaven's stainless blue with golden sunlight blest!
What other land can boast a gem so bright!
    With colors born of sun and driven spray - 
A brooch of glory, amulet of might,
    Where all the irised beauties softly stray.
Ay, more - God's living voice, Niagara, thou!
    Proclaiming wide the anthem of the free;
The starry sky the crown upon thy brow,
    Thy ceaseless chant a song of Liberty.
But this thy birthright, this thy sweetest dower,
    Yon arching rainbow - Love still spanning Power.

Source: Myron T. Pritchard. Poetry of Niagara. Boston: Lothrop Publishing Co., 1901

The Falls of Niagara by John G. C. Brainard

The thoughts are strange that crowd into my brain
When I look up to thee.      It would seem
As if God pour'd thee from his "hollow hand,"
And hung his bow upon thine awful front;
And spoke in that loud voice, which seem'd to him
Who dwelt in Patmos for his Saviour's sake,
"The sound of many waters;" and had bade
Thy flood to chronicle the ages back,
And notch His cent'ries in the eternal rocks.

Deep calleth unto deep.    And what are we,
That hear the question of that voice sublime?
Oh! what are all the notes that ever rung
From war's vain trumpet, by thy thundering side!
Yea, what is all the riot that man makes
In his short life, to thy unceasing roar!
And yet, bold babbler, what art thou to Him
Who drown'd a world, and heap'd the water far
Above its loftiest mountains? - a light wave,
That breaks, and whispers of its Maker's might

Source: Fourth Book of Lessons for the Use of Schools. Armour & Ramsey, 1845

Originally published in the Connecticut Mirror of Hartford, Connecticut