To Frederic Edwin Church Regarding Niagara Falls by Portly Bard


Niagara, 1857 by Frederic Edwin Church
Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

So much like ours, your river’s course
becomes the path of nature’s force
embracing ever lower plane
and carving ever deeper main
except where soil is bared to rock
or rise becomes a stubborn block
that, barring flood, will be its bound
or island it will flow around
as ending tributaries merge
and hasten more the mounting surge
to roar of sudden, fated falls,
the splendor eye so well recalls
by glimmer of prismatic twist
in fountain of its risen mist.

©2023 by Portly Bard. Reproduced on the Niagara Falls Poetry Project website with the permission of Portly Bard.

This poem, inspired by Frederic Edwin Church’s 1857 painting Niagara, was first published in The Ekphrastic ReviewOctober 20, 2023 in their Ekphrastic Challenges series. Read about ekphrastic poetry in Niagara.


Portly Bard.
Old man.  Ekphrastic fan.
Prefers to craft with sole intent…
of verse becoming complement…
…and by such homage being lent…
ideally also compliment.
Ekphrastic joy comes not from praise
for words but from returning gaze
far more aware of fortune art
becomes to eyes that fathom heart.

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