A Sabbath at Niagara by Dr. Baxley

Here, near the temple of Almighty God,
The soul, wrapp'd in humility, bows down
In awe and reverence. 'Tis meet that man,
The creature, beholding the bold displays
Of power stupendous, wisdom infinite,
Should look, through nature's grandest witness, up
To nature's God.   And deeming here all time
A Sabbath, yet on this day appointed
Holy to Him who rear'd these rocky walls,
Buttress'd below by tide-wash'd massive piles,
Entablatured with beetling battlements
And corniced with a waving wilderness
Of verdure, - who outspread yon azure roof,
Now softly mellow'd with ethereal tint,
Or darken'd by the thunder's messenger,
Gilded anon by lightning's gleams, or now
Radiant with starry hosts, whose mirror'd beams
Carpet the billowy floor with silvery light, - 
Who raised yon altar, and now upon its brow
Of emerald, in characters of light,
Inscribed, e'en with his own right hand, "To God!"
Where ministering birds, with notes attuned
To an eternal anthem, hymn his praise,
And bear on dewy wings a pearly cloud
Of incense up toward the Almighty's throne,
Fit worshippers in nature's holiest fane, - 
Who guards the portals of this sacred place
With ever-heaving sea of snowy foam,
Whose tempest voice to man presumptuous calls,
"Thus, and no farther, shalt thou go," and points
To ceaseless whirling tides, the awful
Maelstrom of Niagara, dread emblem of 
Th' eternal doom of man, vain man, who seeks
To pass the limit of assign'd command,
And moral law, - 
                        E'en on this Sabbath day,
Here, near God's own great temple, would we bow
In humble praise and prayer; and while the lip
Rests silent, would the soul its homage give,
And favor seek; petitioning that in
The devious path of life so may we move,
That when these rocks shall melt with fervid heat,
When the rich garniture of teeming earth
Shall vanish, leaving no trace of brightness
Or of beauty to tell that it once was,
This restless tide no longer flow, and its
Deep cadence cease, when the blue dome that spans
The earth shall pale away, and radiant spheres
No longer shed abroad their hallow'd light,
Then may the hope that rests upon His word
Who ne'er was false to man, who hangs his bow
Upon the cloud, and spreads it night and day
Upon his altar's incense, token to man
Alike of His redeeming power and will, - 
Then may the hope that on His word relies,
Nurtured by love and rectitude, grow strong
In trust and prescience of a home "not made
With hands, eternal in the heavens!"

August 1, 1847

From Johnson, F.H. Guide to Niagara Falls and Its Scenery. Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864.

Originally from the register of the Point View Garden.

Dr. Baxley was from Baltimore.

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