Poetry of and about Niagara Falls & the Niagara River – the waterfalls, the city, the history, the stunters, and everything else Niagara
Author: Andrew Porteus
Andrew Porteus is a retired librarian who started the Niagara Falls Poetry Project in 1998 in order to gather in one place the hundreds of poems that exist about Niagara Falls. Andrew returned to Brock University to get a Master of Art degree based on the website
Itisindeedafearfulthing, ….Amomentweshallne’erforget, Tostandwheree’entheeagle’swing ….Hasneverdaredtoventureyet; Tomarkthevolumedvaporwhite ….Rollupasfromamightyaltar, Andfeeluponthatdizzyhight ….Theeternalrockbeneathusfalter, Whilethousandrainbowsfadeandflash ….O’erthecrash’dwatersastheyflow, Andfromourveryfootstepscrash ….Inmistandthunderfarbelow, ToknowthattilltheAlmightyhand ….Shall “rolltogetherasascroll” Theutmostvergeofseaandland, ….Thatmightystreamshallfoamandfall; That when our puny frames forgot ….In death shall sleep full many a year,
Then other eyes shall hail this spot ….And gaze as we are gazing here.
FARwestward,wherethesunlightgleams O’errockydellandrollingstreams; O’erforestsboundlesstotheeye, Andmountainsblendingwiththesky: O’erlakes,whosemorethanoceanblue Fadeintheheavens’ recedinghue; Orkindledwiththesummer’sray, Flashwiththebrightexcessofday; Orripplingontheirsnowyshore, Afloodofsparklingdiamondspour; Orlash’dbeneaththetempest’swing, Skywardtheirfoamingbillowsfling; Orroundtheshelvinggranitecurl’d, Asiftheybattledwiththeworld, Withdeaf’ningroarallmadlysweep Theearthquakethundersofthedeep; Buteverastheirwarringwaves Thedemonofthestormenslaves, Sinkbackandsmileinslumber’schain Asiftheyne’ercouldwakeagain; Socalm,thesighwouldbreaktheirrest Thatheavesthesleepinginfant’sbreast; Orforththeirdeviousjourneytake, Tominglewithsomesisterlake: Andburstingfromtheirboundsforever, Majesticflowagiantriver; Thensofttheircurvingshoresstealby, Astwilightfadesfromsummersky, Aszephyrso’erthevernallea, Asmoonlighto’erthetranquilsea— Twiningonthro’endlessranks Oftreesthatshadetheirslopingbanks; Ordroopinginthecrystalwave, Their green andsunnyfoliagelave; Whilemanyanisleoffairyhue Withsoftenchantmentblendstheview. Thusflowtheyonfromwesttoeast Theirstrengthrenew’d,theirstoreincreased; Tilllinkbylinkstupendouscurl’d, Theirchainembraceshalftheworld; Andthusfrommanyadistantshore AthousandfloodstoEriepour ; Whereminglingseastogetherfled, Inmorethanoceangrandeurspread: TofairOntario’sbosomblue, Combinedtheironwardcoursepursue; Withstrengththepowersofearthtobrave— Niagara’s eternalwave—
In calmandbroadmeanderingsstray, Tillmountainrampartsbartheirway; Thenwildlywakestheirslumberingmight, Thenupwardsdashtheirbillowswhite, Thenwavesonwavesredoublingpour, Andrushalongthegraniteshore; Tillmanmusttrembletobehold Theirstrengthsublimetogetherroll’d, Andfromthemountain’sawfulcrown Inonevastoceanthunderingdown; Theearthaghast,themountainsriven, Themistshroudswreakinguptoheaven, Whilethousandstartlingechoesswell Themutter’dthunderswheretheyfell. Itisasiffromheavenwashurl’d Theponderousruinsofaworld, Andjarringwiththeirmightyforce Afloodofplanetsfromtheircourse, Andallinonevastcurrenthigh Rush’ddarklingdownthebreathlesssky.
Down, down the dark green water flows,
Till boiling eddies o’er them close ;
While o’er their foam that rolls below,
Gleams forth the many – colored bow,
And rivals with its beauteous dyes
That prism glory of the skies.
While shiver’d rocks that nod around,
With plumes of pine and cedar crown’d,
Frown ‘neath their shades of living green
A solemn grandeur o’er the scene.
But hold ! the muse’s starward flight
Falls to the dust in pale affright ;
Drops from her hand the golden lyre ;
All chilly grow her robes of fire,
The mist in clouds above her meet,
The earth is trembling ‘ neath her feet,
Forgets her high immortal powers,
In silence trembles and adores .
My father cheated death a number of times.
People called him a hero.
In Hungary, he was my hero.
But our Revolution failed,
and our dreams were denied.
On Dad’s 35th birthday,
we fled our country
in the middle of the night.
“You’re so lucky you got out,”
those left behind cried.
But my father was never the same.
Although his body was safe,
his spirit had died.
We became immigrants in a country far away.
For my father, that was the saddest day.
Although his life was still ahead,
he fled backwards in his mind
to happier times in the place we left behind.
His life became conversations with the past.
Mythical, magical stories filled his head
Stories that took place long before we were born
Stories we learned to dread.
Being kids, we preferred the present instead.
Our new home was a shrine to what used to be,
but it was a place we never felt free.
The rest of us forged ahead with our new lives,
but we felt too guilty to look in his eyes.
Eyes that were empty—showing no spirit inside.
Dad thought he cheated death,
but he just didn’t die.
The doctors called him a “medical miracle.”
They took out organs, cut off his leg,
and started his stalled heart three or four times.
Then, one day, his heart just broke.
His body finally died.
If only he could have realized…
People die for the myths they create.
And then, suddenly, they find out—too late
that love exists only in the present.
I hope you’re in the place of your dreams, Dad.
I hope there is nothing there that
makes you feel sad.
If only you could have read my book!
I went back to the past to have a good look,
at our lives in Hungary,
where you were my hero.