Niagara by Vachel Lindsay (Poetry Magazine Version)

Vachel niagara poetry
Vachel Lindsay

Within the town of Buffalo
Are prosy men with leaden eyes.
Like ants they worry to and fro,
(Important men in Buffalo!)
But only twenty miles away
A deathless glory is at play
Niagara, Niagara

The women buy their lace and cry,
“Oh, such a delicate design!”
And over ostrich feathers sigh,
By counters there in Buffalo.
The children haunt the trinket shops;
They buy false-faces, bells and tops
Forgetting great Niagara.

Within the town of Buffalo
Are stores with garnets, sapphires, pearls,
Rubies, emeralds aglow,
Opal chains in Buffalo
Cherished symbols of success.
They value not your rainbow dress,
Niagara, Niagara.

The shaggy meaning of her name
This Buffalo, this recreant town
Sharps and lawyers prune and tame.
Few pioneers in Buffalo,
Except young lovers flushed and fleet;
And winds halooing down the street,
“Niagara, Niagara.”

The journalists are sick of ink,
Boy-prodigals burnt out with wine
By night where white and red lights blink
The eyes of Death, in Buffalo
And only twenty miles away
Are starlight rocks and healing spray
Niagara, Niagara.

By the quaint market proudly loom
Church walls. Kind altars gleam within,
Confession boxes crowd the gloom,
Baptismal fonts, in Buffalo.
St. Michael fights the dragon drear;
The stations of the cross are here.
But my church is Niagara.

Above the town a tiny bird,
A shining speck at sleepy dawn,
Forgets the ant-hill so absurd
This self-important Buffalo.
Descending twenty miles away
He bathes his wings at break of day
Niagara! Niagara!

What marching men of Buffalo
Flood the streets in rash crusade?
Fools-to-free-the-world, they go,
Primeval hearts from Buffalo.
Red cataracts of France today
Awake, three thousand miles away,
An echo of Niagara,
The cataract Niagara!

Source: Poetry, July 1917, p 172-174

See also the Chinese Nightingale version of Vachel Lindsay’s Niagara

vachel niagara poetry

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