Niagaratic Impressions by E. G. Fowler

Horseshoe Falls From the American Side by James Hamilton, 1855. From the National Grid (Formerly Niagara Mohawk Power) Collection. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Hail ! Thou stumendous, trependous waterfall !
O waterfall thou art, and waterway thou seemest to fall !
Infinitudinous thou, infinitesimal I !
Yet do I hold thee in the minute circle of mine eye !
Of thee have other alleged poets sung and sung and sung,
Chanting wild doggerel with unlimbered tongue
And shrieking till they nearly ruptured their little left lung !
But it hath fatefully remained for insignificant me
To do the brown poetical thing, O Niagara by thee !
I’ve done up Highland Lake and Upper Woods and Gettysburg
And even busted quills on wild Van Fredenberg,
But ne’er till now did in me surge the sweet divine afflatus
To tune to minstrelsy my poetico-intellectual apparatus
How doth the misty thunder surge palpitatingly athwart my tympanum auricular
As up the emerald aqueous wall it climbs exactly perpendicular !
Jerusalem ! it would absorb a Webster’s dictionary unabridged
To paint in words yon rapids by the flossy billows ridged.
And now I faint e’en as a reformed toper who would pass
His dearest enemy imprisoned in a crystal glass.
These islands are as fair as Eden ere yet the serpent, Sin,
Had run the pickets and skedaddled in.
The Horseshoe Curve — Great Scott ! how doth the water tumble !
And jumble, and rumble, and everlastingly bumble !
One hundred five and sixty feet in sheer descent
The green flood simply flops h–l bent !
And over half a mile across the gruesome edge
Of that precipitous ledge
The endless water pours and pours and pours,
And unremittingly roars and roars and roars !
And what euphonious cognomenclature
Have thoughtless men bestowed on this crown-glory of the works of mighty nature!
Just think of Goat Island, Bath Island, Three Sisters Islands and Shipman Island
And even Luna Island applied to dainty bits of dry land
Amid the thunders of this glorious flood !
Is’t not enough to make a poet drink the blood
Of the inhuman, misguided creatures
Who thus have named Niagara’s salient features ?
The fall is terrific.
The sound is soporific.
The walks are sudorific.
The baths are frigorific.
The charges of the hacks are calorific.
Niagara is a rare old hieroglyphic.
But I will bottle now my musings in my breast
Till I have killed a guide, carved up a hackman and burned an Indian bazaar, when I can rest !
There, the guide is dead, the hackman rests in peace and the bazaar smoke is mixed with Niagara’s mist,
And they will not be missed !
Adieu, Niagara ! the poet goes, as poets do, forever,
But thy sublime and massive grandeur he’ll remember ever !

Source:  The Tri-States Union, October 21, 1886

Fowler’s impressions of Niagara Falls:

Fowler’s impressions on Niagara Falls accompanying the poem


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