Niagara by Mrs. Phebe A. Hanaford


Mrs. Phebe A Hanaford, Universalist Minister, women’s rights activist, lesbian, and author

Awe-struck I stand
Beside this avalanche of waves, and hear
The voice of God from out these watery depths.
Emotion-full, my soul in vain essays
To speak the thoughts that by this scene have birth.
Hark! to the voice of many waters here:
Like that great voice in Patmos heard by John,
It speaks of power, resistless energy,
And mighty purpose unconfined by man.
To me it speaks of God’s almighty love,
Forever surging round the human soul:
The rocks of sin, the shoals of ignorance,
But bid those waves of love in tumult rise,
In rapids like old ocean’s storm-waves, or, as here,
In one vast water-sheet, the cataract’s plunge.
Thus shall it flow till time shall be no more,
And every soul is borne upon its waves,
All cleansed by its pure waters, to the land
Where, joyful, they shall all be moored at last.


Source: Charles Mason Dow. Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls. Albany: State of New York, 1921. p. 756-757

Originally published in Mrs. Phebe A. Hanaford.  From Shore to Shore and Other Poems. Boston: D. B. Russell; San Francisco: A. L. Bancroft & Co., 1871.

Also published in  Johnson, Richard L. (ed).  Niagara: Its History, Incidents and Poetry. Washington: Walter Neale General Book Publisher, 1898 (transcribed by memory as Johnson didn’t have a copy of it when his book was going to press)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *