The Falls of Niagara by E.L.T. Harris-Bickford


‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Imagination ever kind,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Nursling of the poet’s mind,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Imps her wings, and soars afar
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡To where Niagara’s waters are.
And there, whilst throned on towering steep, *
Beholds its tumbling torrent sweep!

Tremendous, stupendous, romantic, gigantic,
Gymnastic, fantastic, elastic, and plastic,
It splashes, and crashes, and lashing down-dashes,
It rumbles and roars, and plunging it pours,
It rolls and uprises, it swells and surprises,
‡‡It hissingly seethes, and it writhingly wreathes
‡‡‡‡A watery chaplet of feathery foam,
‡‡It flutters, it sputters, it cleaves and it weaves
‡‡‡‡A mystical mantle as on it doth roam:
Ay, onward for ever, and silent-voiced never,
But headlong it rushes, it gurgles, it gushes,
Through years and thro’ ages it riots and rages,
‘Tis as old as the sun, yet its race is not run,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It shimmers, it glimmers,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It baffles all swimmers,
It quivers, it shivers, the grandest of rivers,
Like ship-bearing oceans’ majestical motions,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‘Tis ever resounding,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‘Tis ever astounding
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The senses of man!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It ever up-leapeth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And swelling o’er-sweepeth
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The rocks sparry span!
Vibrating, gyrating, elating nor ‘bating,
It rideth, collideth, and slideth, and glideth,
And hurleth and whirleth, and purleth, and curleth,
And waileth, and traileth, then raileth, and quaileth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It frowneth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It drowneth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It boundeth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It soundeth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Till tree, crag and rock
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Re-echo the shock,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Till valley and hill
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Give answering shrill,
O’er-powering, o’ertowering, spray-showering and scouring,
It trips, and it slips, and it grips, and it rips,
It muffles, and shuffles, and ruffles, and scuffles,
Portrays, and delays, and dismays whilst it sways,
And spangles, and tangles, and angles, and wrangles,
It beats, and it cheats, and it fleets, and retreats,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Contesting, molesting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Resistless, not resting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Bold breasting, divesting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It bellows along,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Confusing, illusing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Gaunt, fetterless, strong;
On-speeding, unheeding, receding, then leading,
Directing, ejecting, connecting, reflecting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Vivacious, capacious,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Umbrageous, outrageous;
Diversing, immersing, dispersing, coercing,
It flashes, and clashes, and plashes, and gnashes,
It clings, and it rings, and it flings, and it springs,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now purring, then erring,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Here stirring, there whirring;
And wheeling, and reeling, concealing, and healing,
Advancing, enhancing, proud prancing, romancing,
Conniving, and striving, rude riving, and diving,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It follows, and hollows,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And swallows, and wallows,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Exhaling, prevailing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Exerting and spurting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Tormenting, indenting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Diffracting, contracting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Diverging, and purging,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And evermore urging;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now alt’ring, then falt’ring,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And veering, and nearing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And clearing, and rearing,
Uniting, delighting, exciting, and fighting,
It teareth, and dareth, and weareth, and flareth,
It racks, and it cracks, and it smacks, and it tacks;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It rustles and bustles
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Tempestuous tustles,
And gambols, and rambles, and ambles, and scrambles
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It lurches and fumbles,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It searches and stumbles,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It slouches and crouches,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It jingles and tingles,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It rifles and trifles,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It ripples and tipples,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It sunders
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡and ranges,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It blunders
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡and changes;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It squashes and quavers,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It washes and wavers,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And whitening it wanders,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And brightening it squanders,
Submerging and surging, then scourging, and purging,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It hits though it splits,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It hops though it drops,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It jumps when it thumps,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It clings when it swings;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It twirls and it twines
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And rainbow-hued shines!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It laves and it turns
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And raving it spurns;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Whilst yawning it yerks,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And fawning it jerks;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It dins and it mars,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It spins and it jars;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And winding it shaketh,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And grinding it quaketh;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It slopes and it gropes,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It swims and it skims;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Here swaying it swerves,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡There playing it curves!
Terrifically-rising, spray-tipt, and capsizing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Immuring and luring,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡  Embow’ring, devouring,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Outskirting and flirting
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And maddening, and gladdening,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Extending, strength-spending,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Expelling, o’erwelling,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now smashing, then clashing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Ne’er tiring, inspiring,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Appalling, loud calling,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And snapping, and clapping,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now flaunting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡then difting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now haunting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡then shifting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Uplifting and rifting,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And crowding and shrouding,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And chafing and scathing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And creeping and weeping,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It steadies and eddies
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Wherever its bed is;
Upstarting, down-darting, now closing, then parting,
It scatters, and shatters, and spatters, and patters;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Loud-screaming and scolding,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Its surface unfolding;
Swift-sinking, wave-linking, unthinking in drinking,
Embracing, effacing, grimacing, fleet racing,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡It bubbleth and troubleth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And bursting it doubleth,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Where ending?   Where wending?
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Deep downward descending,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Rough-rending, contending,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡With boulders below!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now rampant, now couchant,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Now swift, and then slow
With roar and with rattle, it bravely doth battle,
Majestically falling, fermenting and sprawling,
Magnificent-seeming, swift streaming, bright gleaming,
Whilst grand in its beauty, its motto is “duty,”
‡‡‡‡It cries with the thunderous voice of the Lord,
‡‡‡‡Propelled in vast volumes beneath the green sward;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Its rhythmical rhyme
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Hudibrastic, sublime,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Still swells out and wells out,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Unconquered by Time!
As onward still sparkling, it drowns itself darkling,
It frolics in freedom, it speaketh great gleedom,
It fuming doth fret, and fierce foaming doth flow,
Till tost down gulph’s gaping oblivion below!
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And at all times ’tis heard
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡When Earth’s musical bird
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Is hushed into balmy and song-refting sleep,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡When golden-eyed Phoebus
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡To gloaming doth leave us,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Till raven-winged Erebus coyly doth creep;
Ah ! then what sensations, what curious vibrations
‡‡‡Man’s heart must discover when beating alone;
With nought but the thunder of torrents down under
‡‡‡Hurled swift from the height of their Nature-wrought throne!

* Table Rock

Source: E. L. T. Harris-Bickford. Gold — The God, and Other Poems. Camborne: The Author, [1893]

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