Niagara by James Staunton Babcock

James Staunton Babcock, 1815-1847

Great matchless Flood ! thy thousand lakes and rivers
‡‡Here met, plunge down these awful mountain steeps ;
How ’neath their Titan tramp the firm earth quivers,
‡‡And back with all her cliffs, astonished leaps !
‡‡Through heaven’s dark halls the thunder wakes and sleeps,
The storm roused ocean raves, and rests his hour ;
‡‡But no repose comes to thy troubled deeps,
Thou sleepless sentinel shouting from thy tower,
To earth and sky the voice of thy stupendous power.

Cities are gathering round thee, human hands
‡‡Thy savage beauty tame, to mold their own ;
Yet firm thy rock seat, sure thy kingdom stands,
‡‡Thou reignest here chief monarch and alone.
‡‡Now yon fair hills the sun crowns like a throne,
Now sinks behind them in his shadowy fall,
‡‡And round his rest the tents of eve are strown,
And night comes listening to thy sovereign call,
As erst through old dim years, from solemn forests tall.

I start from dreams, and hear the tempest roaring,
‡‡Shudders each roof-beam, harsh the window jars ;
I rise, gaze out, — and the fair sky is pouring
‡‡The gentle light of all its glorious stars !
‡‡Sweet shine the orb of love and red haired Mars ;
No wind ! and up yon vast white tumbling sheet,
‡‡Hangs her faint bow the Moon unstained with bars,
And sees her trembling form beneath thy feet,
Seeming to list the tale thy waters aye repeat.

Wild dusky nations on thy shores have wandered,
‡‡And loved, and fought, — pale armies joined in fray ;
And all have passed — and myriads come and pondered,
‡‡Who now are gone, or soon must go, as they !
‡‡Still roar and foam thy broad waves green and gray,
Still round thy misty brow the rainbows span,
‡‡No power shall hush thy voice, thy waters stay,
Telling thy strength how mightier far than man,
Till thy small task is wrought in God’s unbounded plan.

Source:  James Staunton Babcock.  Visions and Voices.  Hartford: Edwin Hunt, 1849

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