Niagara Visited in Autumn by Gurdon Huntington

Table Rock, Niagara, 1867, by Edward Ruggles. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Here in great Nature’s gorgeous fane we stand,
Where grand libation endlessly is poured,
And incense soars aloft forevermore :
Th’ Almighty King the offering receives,
And on the rising cloud of homage hangs
His bow of promise and of grace.
How fair and gladdening ( as a dream of love
And of the pure, fond bliss of childhood’s hours
To the mind torn and tortured by stern grief
And vexed by sullen gusts of wild despair, )
Shines near the foaming, furious cataract,
This promise writ in rich-hued beams of light !
Here swells in Nature’s temple thro’ all years
Her hymn of praise, while sound the thunder-tones
Of her great organ builded not by man,
Shaking the bases and the rock-reared walls.
The rich, dark evergreens with icy fringe
Hang sparkling now beside the dread abyss.
They seem like a swarthy queen in jewel’d gear,
With divers prized and fond attendants by,
As Cleopatra decking for the step
Adown the fearful steeps of death to realms
Of mist and shades.

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡How beautiful yon grove
In all the wildness and the majesty
Of Nature’s primitive growth ! Rich mosses wrapt
Around the noble trunks are velvety
In colors brightened and bedewed with spray.
The tiny flower which blooms upon the sod,
Like it, is freshened in the flying mists
Which breathe their welcome day-dews thro’ these trees :
And hence, we, charmed with matchless beauty, learn
True greatness hath a ministry of love,
E’en for the humble and obscure, as for
The gorgeous and the stately in their hour
Of need and décadence.

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Yon beetling cliffs
Which dark and dizzy, rise above the flood,
Adorned with crimson , pendent trees like vines,
Graceful and young , are types of strength,
The glorious architecture of a hand
Divine and infinite in power. And here,
Below the falling sheet, where foams the flood
With ceaseless roar and ever furious gusts
of rack and wind, — in this dim cave
The poet well might feign the genius fair
of this enchanting, gorgeous spot had shone
At twilight when no other eye beheld ;
As beamed the bright nymph thro’ the sparkling spray
Unto the eye of Manfred ’mid the wild, —
Th’ embodied, rich – hued glory of the scene.
If here the spirit of the Indian brave
Dwelleth amid the flying mists of the mad
And fearful cataract, ( its grander traits
Conspiring in his stern , etherial shape ; )
Forth from the poet’s imaged sprite doth glow
The light, the hues, the fresh , eternal charm
Of waters and of rocks and moss and flowers,
Of sun-bows and of foam-washed crystals clear,
The sparkle and the rich and bloomy grace
Which in the lovelier features of the scene
Adorn the spot as Nature’s glorious shrine.
This noble gem of scenic beauty set
Upon the swelling breast of Earth, hath, too ,
Its fair and delicate chasings as surroundings meet.

Source: Rev. Gurdon Huntington. The Shadowy Land, and Other Poems.  New York: James Miller, 1861.

From Rev. E.B. Huntington. A Genealogical Memoir of the Huntington Family in This Country, Embracing All the Known Descendents of Simon and Margaret Huntington.  Stamford, Conn.: The Author, 1863

GURDON, born Nov. 27, 1818, graduated at Hamilton College, 1838.
Ordained deacon of the Prot. Episcopal church, July 2, 1848, and presbyter, April 14, 1851. He was invited to Simmonsville, and Spraguesville, R. I., in 1848, from which post he went to Pottersville, N. Y., May, 1850. Called to Christ’s church, Sackett’s Harbor, N. Y., April 6, 1852, and to Sag Harbor, June 11, 1856, where he is now engaged. He has devoted much of his time to literature, and from early in his course, as student, has used a ready and skillful pen. His contributions to our poetic literature have been quite numerous, among which are the ” Shadowy Land,” now in press; “The Guests of Brazil;” ” The Romance of the Indian Country and its Tribes;” ” Washington at the Battle of Princeton;” “The Watery World;” ” The Mohawk River;” “Tuxedo Lake;” ” Genevieve ;” “Musings at Evening Hours ;” ” Child of Immortality;” “The Steamship.” Three of his poems, on public occasions, have also been printed: on ” Confidence and Affection,” &c. ; “Dignity and Triumphs of Mental and Moral Culture;” “Providence ;” and a prose essay on “The Conditions and Materials of Poetry.” His poem at the Huntington meeting, Sept. 3, 1857, appears in this book. He was married, Jan. 22, 1852, to Sarah Gold Sill, who died in Sag Harbor, Jan. 31, 1858. He married, the second time, Oct. 25, 1859, Miss Charlotte Marsh Sill, of Rome, N. Y.

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