Long Live the All Day Breakfast Diner by Bartholomew Bakelaar

Interior of the Hi-Lite Restaurant in Niagara Falls
Interior of the Hi-Lite Restaurant in Niagara Falls

Long live the All Day Breakfast diner
that makes this world of rainy days finer! —
The coffee cup, the stirring spoon
mixing sugar & cream, first sip soon
And then– all things better —
no matter the weather, a blessing or a curse
beautiful or ugly, its all the same universe.
The constant hustle streams by on sidewalk while
the serene sips inside produce an effortless smile
We owe it to ourselves
to put the tools down for a minute
& turn our backs on the machine, forget it.

Bartholomew Bakelaar by Nichole Bakelaar
Bartholomew Bakelaar by Nichole Bakelaar

Sip a coffee in a booth, forget seeking truth,
fall silent in peace, let it all be.
Have a second, third , a fourth cup of coffee
there’s no hurry, nowhere to go, nowhere to be.
The galaxy wheels overhead in perfect harmony
with all there is, even as you sit
enjoying yr own company
at the All Day Breakfast diner, tell me
what could be finer?

Source: The Author, 2017

Niagara by Sarah Pratt

niagara sarah pratt

niagara sarah pratt
Portage Around the Falls of Niagara at Table Rock, by George Catlin, 1847/1848

Niagara, I love to hear thy voice,
And while I look on thy array of waters
Careering onward with resistless force,
And showing forth all the might and power of Him
Who ruleth over all — ’tis then my soul
Is filled with awe, and I can realize
That God is here, that he is present now.
Oh! let a song of praise ascend to Him
Who gives us all things richly to enjoy,
And while we gaze upon this glorious scene,
Let us remember thou dost shadow forth
The glory of Omnipotence.
Awe-struck we gaze on these o’erhanging rocks,
And mark thy waters as they onward flow,
And hear, Niagara! thy unceasing roar.
We watch the clouds of spray as they ascend,
And view the bright inimitable green,
Too dazzling to the eye, and then we feel
That scenes like these, stupendous and sublime,
Must lose their greatness when compared with Him
Whose presence fills the immensity; then while ’tis ours
To gaze upon His works, may we be led
To worship and adore; to live for Him,
That when earth’s scenes shall fail before our eyes,
We may behold more glorious worlds above,
And through the sacrifice of Him who gave
His life for fallen man, dwell ever more
Where love, and joy, and peace forever reign.

New York, August 12, 1847.

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

niagara sarah pratt

Niagara by Ozan Haksever

ozan haksever

ozan haksever
American Falls from the Canadian Side by ‘Peter’ Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Oh Niagara, watch your waters fall,
To see the angels that your waters call.
Watch the people gather ’round,
And marvel at what they have found.

Oh Niagara, fill the flowing stream,
Your endless beauty like a distant dream.
Don’t hold back your magic rain,
For I love the way it clears my pain.

Oh Niagara, let your soul pour out.
And let the people run about.
They stare at your bridges tall.
As into love the children fall.

Oh Niagara, I remind you of
Two children who shared such a love,
That it lasted all these years,
Through all their joys and tears.

Oh Niagara, what a caring life
Did live this man and wife.
That now they have nothing to do,
Nothing but to visit you.

Oh Niagara, they have come to you,
To sleep inside your waters blue,
Climbing to love had such a spell,
That falling must be great as well.

Oh Niagara, welcome two new angels,
Ring out your diamond bells,
As to the top the lovers crawl,
And into their heaven they fall.


Source: The author, July 2003.

©2000 by Ozan Haksever

Niagara (1825) by José María Heredia. Translation attributed to William Cullen Bryant

bryant heredia  

bryant heredia
José María Heredia

‡‡My lyre! give me my lyre! My bosom feels
The glow of inspiration. O how long
Have I been left in darkness since this light
Last visited my brow, Niagara!
Thou with thy rushing waters dost restore
The heavenly gift that sorrow took away.

‡‡Tremendous torrent! For an instant hush
The terrors of thy voice and cast aside
Those wide involving shadows, that my eyes
May see the fearful beauty of thy face!
I am not all unworthy of thy sight,
For from my very boyhood have I loved,
Shunning the meaner track of common minds,
To look on nature in her loftier moods.

‡‡At the fierce rushing of the hurricane,
At the near bursting of the thunderbolt
I have been touched with joy; and when the sea,
Lashed by the wind, hath rocked my bark and showed
Its yawning caves beneath me, I have loved
Its dangers and the wrath of elements.
But never yet the madness of the sea
Hath moved me as thy grandeur moves me now.

‡‡Thou flowest on in quiet, till thy waves
Grow broken ‘midst the rocks; thy current then
Shoots onward like the irresistible course
Of destiny. Ah, terribly they rage ―
The hoarse and rapid whirlpools there!
My brain grows wild, my senses wander, as I gaze
Upon the hurrying waters, and my sight
Vainly would follow, as toward the verge
Sweeps the wide torrent — waves innumerable
Meet there and madden — waves innumerable
Urge on the overtake the waves before,
And disappear in thunder and in foam.

‡‡They reach — they leap the barrier — the abyss
Swallows insatiable the sinking waves.
A thousand rainbows arch them, and woods
Are deafened with the roar. The violent shock
Shatters to vapor the descending sheets —
A cloudy whirlwind fills the gulf, and heaves
The mighty pyramid of circling mist
To heaven. The solitary hunter near
Pauses with terror in the forest shades.

‡‡What seeks my restless eye? Why are not here,
About the jaws of this abyss, the palms —
Ah — the delicious palms, that on the plains
Of my own native Cuba, spring and spread
Their thickly foliaged summits to the sun,
And, in the breathings of the ocean air,
Wave soft beneath the heaven’s unspotted blue?

‡‡But no, Niagara, — thy forest pines
Are fitter coronal for thee. The palm,
The effeminate myrtle, and frail rose may grow
In gardens, and give out their fragrance there,
Unmanning him who breathes it. Thine it is
To do a nobler office. Generous minds
Behold thee, and are moved, and learn to rise
Above earth’s frivolous pleasures; they partake
Thy grandeur, at the utterance of thy name.

‡‡God of all truth! in other lands I’ve seen
Lying philosophers, blaspheming men,
Questioners of thy mysteries, that draw
Their fellows deep into impiety,
And therefore doth my spirit seek thy face
In earth’s majestic solitudes. Even here
My heart doth open all itself to thee.
In this immensity of loneliness
I feel thy hand upon me. To my ear
The eternal thunder of the cataract brings
Thy voice, and I am humbled as I hear.

‡‡Dread torrent! that with wonder and with fear
Dost overwhelm the soul of him that looks
Upon thee, and dost bear it from itself,
Whence hast thou thy beginning? Who supplies,
Age after age, thy unexhausted springs?
What power hath ordered, that, when all thy weight
Descends into the deep, the swollen waves
Rise not, and roll to overwhlem the earth?

‡‡The Lord hath opened his omnipotent hand,
Covered thy face with clouds, and given his voice
To thy down-rushing waters; he hath girt
Thy terrible forehead with his radiant bow.
I see thy never-resting waters run,
And I bethink me how the tide of time
Sweeps to eternity. So pass of man —
Pass, like a noon-day dream — the blossoming days,
And he awakes to sorrow. I alas!
Feel that my youth is withered, and my brow
Ploughed early with the lines of grief and care.

‡‡Never have I so deeply felt as now
The hopeless solitude, the abandonment,
The anguish of a loveless life. Alas!
How can the impassioned, the unfrozen heart
Be happy without love? I would that one
Beautiful, — worthy to be loved and joined
In love with me, — now shared my lonely walk
On this tremendous brink. ‘T were sweet to see
Her dear face touched with paleness, and become
More beautiful from fear, and overspread
With a faint smile while clinging to my side!
Dreams — dreams. I am an exile, and for me
There is no country and there is no love.

‡‡Hear, dread Niagara, my latest voice!
Yet a few years and the cold earth shall close
Over the bones of him who sings thee now
Thus feelingly. Would that this, my humble verse,
Might be like thee, immortal. I, meanwhile,
Cheerfully passing to the appointed rest,
Might raise my radiant forehead in the clouds
To listen to the echoes of my fame.

Source: Hills, Elijah Clarence (ed). The Odes of Bello, Olmedo and Heredia. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1920.

Also in the anthology Niagara Mornings by Andrew C. Porteus, 2016.

Did Bryant Translate Heredia’s Ode to Niagara? E. C. Hills, Modern Language Notes
Vol. 34, No. 8 (Dec., 1919), pp. 503-505

Niagara (1825) by José María Heredia. Translated by Dr. Keith Ellis.

Plaque of José María Heredia
Plaque recognizing José María Heredia at the brink of Niagara Falls

Give me, give me my lyre! For I feel
in my aroused and trembling soul
the flame of inspiration! Oh, how much time
has gone by in darkness, my brow deprived
of the gleam of its light…Surging Niagara,
none but your awesome visage can return to me
the divine gift that sorrow with impious hand
cruelly snatched from me.

Oh mighty torrent, be calm and silence
your terrifying thunder: lighten
the mist that shrouds you,
let me ponder your serence face,
fueling thus my fervour.
I am your worthy contemplator: always
disdaining life’s common and petty cares,
I yearned for the extraordinary and the sublime.
The furious hurricane unleashed,
or the thunderbolt booming over my head,
my heart raced with joy. I saw the oceans,
lashed by howling southern winds,
rage against my ship and open
chasms before me, and I loved the danger,
the fury I loved. But all that fierceness
did not move me
as does this your grandeur.

You flow serene, majestic, and then
crashing onto sharp rugged rocks,
violently you dash forward, relentless,
like destiny, irrestistible and blind.
What human voice could describe
the terrifying spectacle
of these roaring rapids? My mind
is lost in vague thoughts,
reflecting on the seething current
that my clouded vision vainly tries
to follow as it sweeps to the wide edge
of so high a cliff. A thousand waves,
moving rapidly like thoughts,
clash in wild fury;
another thousand, and yet another rush to join them,
and amid foam and clamour they disappear.

But still they come…they leap…the horrendous abyss
devours the plunging torrents;
a thousand rainbows criss-cross there,
and the mighty roar resounds in the deafened forests.
Hitting the rocks with terrifying violence
the water breaks, leaping,
and whirling vapour
covers the abyss in swirling clouds; it rises,
circles about, then like a huge pyramid
reaches toward the heavens,
and drifting over the surrounding forests
frightens the solitary hunter.
But, what does my eager gaze
restless, forlorn, search for in you?
Why don’t I see, encircling your immense chasm,
the palm trees, ah! those delicious palm trees,
that on the plains of my beloved Cuba
come to life blessed by the sun’s smile, and flourish;
and in the waft of ocean breezes
sway under a sky of spotless blue?

Ah painful memory…
Oh Niagara, you’ve achieved your fullest destiny,
no crown but the wild pine
more befits your terrible majesty.
Let the palm tree, myrtle and delicate rose
inspire easy pleasures and soft idleness
in giddy gardens; fate held for you
a worthier, loftier end.
Free, generous, strong spirits approach,
observe you, and are amazed;
henceforth they spurn frivolous delights
and feel uplifted at the mention of your name.

Oh God! God of truth! In other climes
I saw detestable monsters
blaspheming your sacrosanct name,
sow error and impious fanaticism,
flood fields with blood and tears,
stir up, despicable fratricidal war,
and in their frenzy desolate the land.
I saw them, and my chest heaved at their sight
in grave indignation. I saw as well
lying philosophers who dared
to question your mysteries, offend you,
and fiendishly drag
miserable men down to lamentable depths.
That’s why my mind, always searching for you
in heightened solitude, is now
in full communion with you. It feels your hand
in this immensity that surrounds me,
and your profound voice touches my heart
in the eternal thunder of these cascading waters.

Amazing torrent!
How the sight of you confounds my spirit,
filling me with terror and wonder!
Where is your beginning? Who has been nourishing
your inexhaustible source as the centuries go by?
What powerful hand
has ordained that on receiving your mighty waters
the ocean does not inundate the land?

The Lord opened his omnipotent hand.
He covered you with restless clouds.
He gave his voice to your tumbling waters,
and adorned with his rainbow your fearsome forehead.
I look at your waters tirelessly flowing
like the long torrent of centuries
rolling along into eternity. Thus mankind’s flowery days
go fleetingly by
and give way to sorrow. Oh! I feel my youth
burnt out, my face withered,
and the profound pain that shakes me
wrinkles with sorrow my clouded brow.

Never have I felt as deeply as now
my wretched isolation, my abandonment,
my anguished lovelessness. How could
a passionate and turbulent soul
be happy without love? Oh! If only a beautiful woman
worthy of me would love me,
and share my wandering thoughts
and my lonely steps
beside this churning abyss.
How I would enjoy seeing a slight paleness
temper her face, more beautiful
in her sweet terror, and see her smile
as I hold her in my loving arms!
Vain ravings!…Oh! I am banished,
without homeland, without love,
with no prospects but tears and sorrow.

Powerful Niagara!
hear my final words! In a few years
a cold tomb will have swallowed up
your feeble singer. May my verses share
your immortal glory! May a kind
traveller on contemplating your face
one day sigh, remembering me.
May I, with the setting sun,
fly joyfully to the Creator’s call,
and on hearing the echoes of my fame,
lift my radiant head above the clouds.

Source: Heredia, José Heredia. Torrente Prodigioso: A Cuban Poet at Niagara Falls. ed. & translated by Keith Ellis. Toronto: Lugus Publications, 1997.

Biography of Dr. Keith Ellis