The Indians by Evelyn M. Watson

watson indians

watson indians
Captain Webb’s Indian Bazaar (located between the current Oakes Garden Theatre and the Rainbow Bridge). Photo courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library

How can you come to boldly gape
At some red mother, in cowling cape
Who sews stiff beads on stiffer pillows —
“Souvenirs” — but here are willows,
And here the trails and paths of their feet
In regal days found sweet.

That small papoose with wrinkled chin
Now gravely offers — a moccasin,
And there a princess, with features weathered,
Wears weeds — oh, once an arrow feathered
She flashed — or rather some ancestress
In doe-skin, festal dress.

But if they offer beads, then buy,
Theirs this ancient forestry —
Theirs the windy sun-steeped willows
With roots beneath the pouring billows —
Theirs a grim regality
Chiding, chiding me.

Source: Evelyn M. Watson. Poems of the Niagara Frontier. New York: Dean & Company, 1929.

Click to see more poems from Watson’s Poems of the Niagara Frontier

A “Stop-Over” at Niagara by Evelyn M. Watson

watson stopover

watson stopover
Crowds at the Victoria Park Station at the top of Clifton Hil, 1920l. Photo courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library

Yellow trolley cars like golden pumpkins
Disgorging Cinderellas (for the day,)
And young Prince Charmings, friendly country bumpkins…
(They recently were married, do you say?)

Bright bazaars with giddy banners flying —
Basilisks, gorgons, carved, or sphinx —
And gaudy postal cards just right for lying —
And here’s a fount of rosy, foolish drinks,

Niagara Falls emblazoned on a cup ;
And, in a sugar-shell, old fashioned scenes —
Once-regal Indians now lifting up
A beaded thing, the Waterfall in greens.

The raucous hawker in the street is quelled. . .
(Administration building ?   Left, sir. . . )
By that deep throbbing tone unparalleled
Authentic Voice that makes man’s pulses stir. . .

More Indians in the apses of the grove ;
The islands with their edges greenly shaded ;
And shy young couples — walking out — for love ?
Cabs and busses endlessly paraded.

The bridges where one pauses to inquire
Of very soul if eyes have seen aright ;
Sea-green, and speeding waters dripping fire —
The heavy masses slipping out of sight. . .

A far-set rocky isle by rustic bridge,
And then, within the river, one sharp jag
(Gull Island once ?  It seems vast privilege
To meditate — the mightiest so brag.)

And now, again, that climax of the trip,
Observed but only to benumb the sense ;
The pouring masses ceaselessly that slip
Into dread chasms of Magnificence. . . .

 

Source: Evelyn M. Watson. Poems of the Niagara Frontier. New York: Dean & Company, 1929.

Click to see more poems from Watson’s Poems of the Niagara Frontier

watson stopover

Uncle Alvin at Niagara by Almon Trask Allis

Alvin   

alvin
Artist’s Sketch of Three Sisters and Goat Islands Just Above Niagara Falls. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

“The last excursion of the year,” I read the other day,
Affordin’ opportunity to see grand old Niagara ;
And for a dollar and a half, to go up there and back,
And see the sights, and ride above two hundred miles of track,
Seemed like we’d get our money’s worth, if we could get away,
And leave the farm and kitchen cares behind us for a day.
We’d been a-wantin’, all these years, to go and see the falls,
But, somehow, when the chances came there’ d be so many calls
For both our time and money, that the chances slipped away,
While year climbed on the top of year, ’til we are growin’ gray ;
And still the cares we have to meet are such a clingin’ kind,
It’s often mighty difficult to slip them off behind,
And dump them in a heap somewhere, or lay them on a shelf,
While we get out from under, and can slip off by ourself.
But nature seemed to favor us ; the season was so fine
We got our summer’s work along a bit ahead of time ;
And nothin’ seemed a-crowdin’, like, and coaxin’ to be done,
As is the case too frequently, to keep us on the run ;
And Nancy hadn’t been away, exceptin’ to the fair,
To loosen up the constant strain of daily wear and tear
Of wrestlin’ with problems which perplex a woman’s brain,
And keep her fingers busy, and her muscles on the strain,
For such a long time back that I’m almost ashamed to tell,
And if I really wanted to, I couldn’t very well ;
And I, myself, had worked so long, as farmers have to do,
To keep the work from snarlin’, like, and keep it payin’, too,
That I was glad to see a chance to lay aside the strain
Which makes the years to tell on me as well as Nancy Jane ;
And when I read the notice, why, it seemed to strike us so,
That both of us together said, “I guess we’d better go.”
And so the thing was settled, and we’d picked our grapes and plums
To be ahead of frost or thieves, provided either comes ;
For frosts may be expected almost any pleasant night,
And thieves, if not expected, are so plenty that they might ;
And Nancy had our luncheon baked, and I had bought some cheese,
And she had found a paste-board box, as handy as you please
To put our picnic dinner in ; so when the mornin’ came,    Continue reading “Uncle Alvin at Niagara by Almon Trask Allis”

Seeing Niagara by Lini Grol

All excited,
they landed with their camera
to see all of Canada,
but most of all,
that great NIAGARA FALL.

Worldy-wise they ignore
the neon signs enticing them
to spend their precious time,
and dole out their hard-won yens.

Eagerly they go on
then falter to a silent stare
at the Niagara in its roaring Fall …
Intimidated, for a moment
they marvel at its immense powers.
Then turning
they quietly drink
in with glowing delight
the scent and sight
of the billions of flowers,
who silently ring
the roaring powers
of the Niagara Falls.

Source: Grol, Lini, ed. by Kevin McCabe and Lynne Prunskus. Lake to Lake: Lini Grol’s Niagara.  St. Catharines: Blarney Stone Books, c2000.

Niagara Falls by Alan Dugan

Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan, 1923-2003

We saw it all. We saw the souvenir shops, and sitting
on the mist above the falls, the brilliant signs
saying hotels to love in, cigarettes to smoke,
souvenirs for proof; we give you anything you want,
even towels. Our disgust was as stylized as billboards,
and we suggested to ourselves that even our sympathy
for the ugly people of the off-season was outworn.
But here it was, nevertheless, the ferocious, spastic
enjoyment, the hotels like freight-yards or packing crates,
the lights that murder sight, and the community snicker.
The falls, of course, continued with great dignity.

Source:  Poetry,  April 1947,  p 12.