Ode to Niagara by Lansing V. Hall

Canada Southern Railway Train and Cars, American & Horseshoe Falls in Background
executed by the American Oleograph Co. Image Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

MAJESTIC river, full of awe and wonder,
Roll onward in thy might, and roar like thunder ;
Bring from the upper lakes where the waters nap,
Thy burthens to this brink, and let ‘ em drap.
Roll onward in thy wrath, and foam and spatter ;
My bark is on dry land—that’s what’s the matter.
To pay for all this splurge, there’s a Lincoln cent,
I’ve dropped it in thy surge—so let it went !
If more thou still demand, there’s a Canada copper,
Large as a full-blown moon-put that in your hopper !
Methinks I feel a bug, and hear him hum ;
‘Tis only the “Maid of the Mist,” for passengers come.
I’ve climbed the weary stairs, the steps I’ve counted,
But wish now by the cars and ropes I’d mounted.
My coat is wet with spray, but my throat is dry ;
This scene is grand, they say, but it’s all in their eye.
I’ve heard of thee, Niagara, and now I’ve found thee ;
But sorry thou dost keep such robbers round thee.
The Yankees stole my purse, John Bull my hat,
And my last disputed stamp I paid to Pat.
So now I’ve nothing left, as I’m a sinner,
To recompense “mine host” for his dollar dinner.
But hold ! I have it now—there goes the bell !
I’ll sell my ode, I vow ! Old stream, farewell !
Should e’er we meet again, with case inverted,
I, tumbling toward the main, thou, dry and deserted,
I’ll wet thy husky throat till thou feelest staggery,
And I’ll sprinkle well thy coat. Farewell, Niagara !
Should e’er we meet again this side the ocean,
I’ll sing in loftier strain my deep devotion ;
I’ll praise thy gorgeous bow till my voice shall quiver.
But the steam is up—we go. Good-by, old river !
Good-by ! the echoes die with the cataract thunder,
While away like the wind we fly to a western wonder,
Where objects meet the sight too marvelous to tell,
Where cities grow up in a night. Fogies, farewell !
For the golden land I’m bound, where the trees reach heaven,
With trunks four miles around—diameter seven ;
Where grapes like pumpkins grow in every dell,
Where corn needs plow nor hoe. Reader, farewell !
And when I’ve reached the shore by the “Great Pacific,”
I’ll carve on the depot door this hieroglyphic ;
A sleeping car, marked “through,” ‘neath a huge balloon,
Myself among the crew, labeled, “the moon.”

Source: L.V. Hall. Voices of Nature. New York: John A. Gray & Green, Printers, 1868.

In his  Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls, Charles Mason Dow writes “The author of this poem was blind. The “Ode” is evidently intended to be humorous, but the humor consists largely in slang and bad grammar.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: