Niagara by Henry Austin

Splendour supreme of constant majesty,
Of towering passion, overpowering charm,
At last, mine eyes behold thee as thou art -
In all the lightness of thy moving grace;
In all the whiteness of thy soaring spray;
In all the brightness of thy might!

                At last,
Mine ears drink in thy voice miraculous,
O plunging mountain full of thundersongs
Defiant or triumphant, echoing aye
Through vasts of day and night!
                        O Shape beyond
All winged imagery of magic words
Most musical, by ancient bards bequeathed
To spell the hearts of ever-coming men,
At last, I grasp, I clasp thee; and my soul,
Struck speechless in thy Cavern of the Winds,
Breathlessly burns with sharp, voluptuous ache
To dash herself against thy torrent breast
And join the awful Angels of thy fall
Perpetual on the crags of Agony -
Victorious Agony of glorious doom!

O perilous bridge 'mid gusts of dazzling pearl,
Or where a diamond storm enshrouds the way.
Thou seem'st like Life a span 'twixt Day and Night;
For tho' eternal rainbows crown the rocks,
Halos of Hope, charmed circles of high Faith,
Commanding entrance through the chasms of Doubt,
To deeps of nobler knowledge and soul-strength,
Yet all this beauty overwhelms the mind
By clash of contrast with our littleness.


                        So, Heart of Mine,
Oh! Heart of All, stand up and take the sun!
Seize, for 't is thine, thy sovereignty of Light!
Night with her pale Infinitude of Stars,
Nor Ocean, nor the Mountains, nor e'en Thou,
Niagara, with all thy loveliness,
Can match, in possibilites of growth
To Power, to Beauty, to Sublimity,
That noblest Mystery, the Soul of Man.

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

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