Sleep, sleep, Niagara, deep beneath the ice;
Your native thunder quell, that peace may reign
About your mammoth frame; let calm entice
Your weary waters, evermore a fane
For weary hearts to perch, spellbound in awe:
Carve caverns from the layered ice and snow,
That out the gap you breathe both rough and raw;
Along your sides let chilly north winds blow,
And cystallize the limbs of every tree
Guarding the lofty borders of your brim;
Let famished seagulls from your chill face flee,
That nothing stay the zealous eye to skim
Your placid whiteness, lost in rare displays
Of wonder, dreamy scenes for all to praise
Niagara Falls in the winter time. The empty rooms of
skyscraper hotels facing the river that cuts the ridge of the
rock. The waterfall moans for miles through the streets, the
only sound over the fresh mute of snowfall. The lights of
the mid-way; fun houses, freak shows, horror houses; all lit
up and no one to see. Hatchet men, monsters, ghouls,
having staring matches with wax celebrities, and rock stars
and criminals. And me, sitting in stone. My breathe the only
thought that fills the air.
Nor similes nor metaphors avail!
All imagery vanishes, device
Dies in thy presence, wondrous dream of ice!
Ice-bound I stand, my face is pinched and pale,
Before such awful majesty I fail,
Sink low on this snow-lichened slab of gneiss,
Shut out the gleaming mass that can entice,
Enchain, enchant, but in whose light I quail.
While I from under frozen lashes peer,
My thoughts fly back to take a homeward course.
How dear to dwell in sweet placidity,
Instead of these colossal crystals, see
The slender icicles of some fairy “force,”
And break the film upon an English mere!
Source: Professor Gregory Betts, Brock University, Department of English. First published 1891.