Niagara by J.W. Weidemeyer

Weidemeyer’s Admiral Butterfly (Limenitis weidemeyerii), named after noted lepidopterist John William Weidemeyer

ERE beings with soul and mind arrayed
Their earthly habitation had made—
When the Saurian monsters in agony lay,
Stricken by doom, on their beds of clay—
Like a meteor, illuming some desolate land,
Niagara leaped from its Maker’s hand !

Once spirits of beauty that manhood enslave
At nightfall were seen on its emerald wave;
In seraphic strain they whispered a song
Whose rapturous concords to Eden belong.
They hunted the thicket with spear and with bow,
Or called the Naiades from their caverns below,
To search for the living trophies that sink
In the green gulf of water that flows o’er the brink

A fairy isle trembles on the cataract’s crest,
Beloved by the waves, that hold it compressed;
And, like worshipping Magii, rainbows arise,
’Neath these acres of paradise dropped from the skies.
Transition and death now dwell in the smile
Of the white, foaming rapids that sweep past the isle;
Could their waters but cleanse the deep stain of man’s sin,
How many a diver the torrent would win!

In vain the Ice-king, whose touch is death,
Would stem the wild current, with Arctic breath;
With slow-creeping gait, and palsying shock,
Though he bind the cataract fast to the rock,
Long ere the green blade has pierced the ground,
Sunbeams dispel the enchantment around,
And the waters rush on to the far distant sea,
As if wandering their way to eternity.

Source: J.W. Montclair. Real and Ideal: A Collection of Metrical Compositions. New York: F. Hart, Printer, 1864.

N.B. – J.W. Montclair is a pseudonym for John William Weidemeyer.

Read about Weidemeyer here

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