The Falls of Niagara by Giambattista Scandella

Translated from the Italian by Samuel L. Mitchell, 1796

Samuel Latham Mitchell courtesy of Wikipedia

BORNE to the rocky bed’s extremest brow,
‡‡The flood leaps headlong, nor a moment waits ;
To join the whirlpool deep and vast below,
‡‡The saltless ocean hurries through the straits.

Hoarse roars the broken wave ; and upward driv’n,
‡‡Dashes in air ; —dissolving vapours press’d
Confound the troubled elements with heav’n :
‡‡Earth quakes beneath ;heart trembles in the breast. 

With steps uncertain, to a jutting rock,
‡‡To gaze upon the immense abyss I hie ;
And all my senses feel a horrid shock
‡‡As down the steep I turn my dizzy eye.

On cloudy steams I take a flight sublime,
‡‡Leaving the world and nature’s works behind ;
And as the pure empyreal heights I climb,
‡‡Reflect with rapture on the Immortal Mind.

Source: Hoffman, Charles Fenno (ed.) The New-York Book of Poetry.  New-York: George Dearborn, Publisher, 1837.

Also published in what appears to be an identical reprint, except for the beginning matter:  The Gems of American Poetry by Distinguished Authors.  New-York: A. & C. B. Edwards, 1840

“The above lines were translated by Dr. Mitchell, in October 1796, from the Italian of Dr. Gian Baptista   Scandella, an accomplished gentleman, who afterwards, in September 1798, fell a victim to the yellow fever in the city of New York,  just as he had finished his American tour, and was on the eve of embarking for Europe .”

N.B. The two books mentioned above has his forenames as “Gian Baptista,” other sources, including the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Archives which holds his papers, use “Giambattista.”

Read about Giambattista Scandella
Read about Samuel Latham Mitchell

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