Upon Being Asked to Describe Niagara by David Paul Brown


Believed to be David Paul Brown by John Robinson from the collections of  The Walters Art Museum

Describe it !  Who can ere describe
‡‡The lightning’s flash — the thunder’s roll.
Say what is Life, or what is Death,
‡‡Or paint the portrait of the Soul?

Describe the rainbow in the spray,
‡‡The rapids in their wild career —
Raging like ravenous beasts of prey,
‡‡While all creation shrinks with fear?

Go sketch and paint the humblest flower
‡‡That lends its fragrance to the grove;
Go trace the feeblest star that gleams
‡‡From the cerulean vaults above.

Exhaust thyself, vain-glorious man,
‡‡On scenes and subjects fit for thee,
Nor dare presumptuously to scan
‡‡The wondrous works of Eternity.

The works of an almighty hand
‡‡None can depict — though all adore !
Terrific — bold and beautiful.
‡‡They breathe the sov’reignty of power.

O God ! it seems to me most strange
‡‡That any man so mad should be
To doubt, to disbelieve Thy power
‡‡When thus, Creation speaks to Thee.

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

Originally published in Springs, Water-falls, Sea-bathing Resorts, and Mountain Scenery of the United States and Canada. New York: J. Disturnell, 1855


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