The Song of Niagara by Garet Noel

Horseshoe Falls from New Falls View Upper Suspension Bridge
Artistic recreation from a stereograph by Rob J. Kirley, 1976
Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

With a giant sweep from the height I leap,
Like a god I wield my thunder,
And the quivering rock beneath the shock
Trembles and shrinks in wonder ;
I gather the waves in a mad embrace
As gaily they leap in their onward race,
And laugh, as I hurl them down to die,
To hear the shriek of their agony ;

On, ever on,
Like a miniature world to confusion hurl’d
Edyying, splashing, frantically dashing
Down, ever down.
In a hollow beneath, I have hidden death ;
He waits for the prey I bring him,
With a last faint gasp from my watery clasp
His human spoil I fling him.

There are rocks down there, cruel, sharp and bare,
Like murderers laid in ambush,
And a whirlpool that sucks the waves in flocks
That shuddering down the chasm rush.
There silence is crown’d in the depths profound
By the dead with their sunken faces ;
But my secrets I keep, a mystery deep,
On my brow ye read no traces.

Ere impotent man his race began,
When his pride was a thing unknown,
At Creation’s word my song was heard,
Through Chaos my path was hewn ;
My steps ye may trace on the granite face
As backward my course I planted,
But for ages alone on my forest throne
I poured forth my songs enchanted ;

And solitude stood in the vastness rude,
And silence took up the strain
Till the echoes leaped from the rocks where they slept
Shouting it back again.
And the centuries passed with their shadowy feet,
But I mocked at them hast’ning to be forgot,
And the young years paus’d for a friendly greet,
But none could whisper when I was not ;

And empires whose dread o’er the earth was spread,
In their grandeur have come and gone,
All things that vain man in his glory wrought
Pass’d by like an idle and changing thought.
But I still thundered on ;
And the earth has been red ‘neath the victor’s tread
As he pass’d on his course death-strewn,
But he shrank in his pride, and forgotten died,
While I still thundered on.

And springtime and summer, I love each comer,
Crowning my ancient brow,
While King Frost with a frown would bind me down
With his manacles wrought of snow ;
But he shivered aghast, as he looked his last,
On the chains he would bind me under,
For he saw me but throw the foam from my brow
And laugh as I shook them asunder.

Ye have come, ye have come,
Oh ! man, in your conscious pride,
For your brow is fraught with immortal thought,
And the heights and depths to your gaze lay bare,
A shadow of mystery gather’d there,
Ye are lords of your kingdom wide ;

But ye have no command that shall bid me stand,
Or turn at your sovereign will,
As I roll’d ere the earth had given you birth,
I roll, unabated, still ;

I gather ye up as a frail flower cup,
Ye shriek, but I laugh like thunder,
Oh ! where are your power and your wisdom’s dower,
Ye are mute in my caverns under ;
For the shadow of death is upon your breath,
Your step like a dream is ended ;
But the ages rejoice while I lift my voice,
And my song with Time’s is blended.

Source: Noel Garet.  The Song of Niagara. Toronto: Copp, Clark Co., 1896

N.B. The name Noel Garet in enclosed in quotation marks on both the pre-title and title pages, indicating that a pseudonym may have been used.

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