At Niagara by John Savage

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡THE RAPIDS.

Portrait of John Savage.

In broken lines, like ghosts of buried nations,
‡‡Struggling beneath their white and tangled palls,
They leap and roar to Earth their exaltations,
‡‡And Earth e’en trembles as each spectre falls.

With strength that gives solemnity to clangour,
‡‡With quaint immensity that strangles mirth,
Like mortal things they roar to time their anger,
‡‡Like things immortal they disdain the Earth.

They bound—as dallying in their gorgeous West,
‡‡In forest cradles and in parent mountains,
They heard old Ocean throb his regal breast
‡‡And call his vassals—the cascades and fountains.

From crag to crag they leap and spread the sound,
‡‡Through gorge and wood their flashing banners motion,
Till here in frantic rivalry they bound,
‡‡These mighty white-plumed cohorts, for the ocean.

Surging along the pale battalions muster,
‡‡Crowding each other, till the strongest springs
A-top his fellows, with heroic lustre,
‡‡And dares the deeds, like Viking, that he sings.

Like men, the Rapids, born amid restless valor,
‡‡Flash o’er their foes with many a frothened spasm,
And linking all in pomp’s majestic pallor,
‡‡Leap like ten thousand Romans down the chasm !

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡THE FALLS.


There is an awful eloquence around—
‡‡Like earthquake underneath the dreamful pillows
Of some great town, that deemed its strength profound,
‡‡And wakes on worse than frantic Ocean’s billows.

The mists, like shadowy cathedrals rise,
‡‡And through the vapory cloisters prayers are pouring :
Such as ne’er sprang to the eternal skies,
‡‡From old Earth’s passionate and proud adoring.

There is a voice of Scripture in the flood,
‡‡With solemn monotone of glory bounding,
Making all else an awe-hushed solitude
‡‡To hear its everlasting faith resounding.

There is a quiet on my heart like death,
‡‡My eyes are gifted with a strange expansion,
As if they closed upon my life’s last breath,
‡‡And oped to measure the eternal mansion.

I see so much I fear to trust my vision,
‡‡I hear so much I doubt my mortal ear,
I feel so much, my soul in strong submission
‡‡Bends in a silent, death-like rapture here.

Source: John Savage. Faith and Fancy.  New York: James B. Kirker, 1864

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