I NIAGARA, how charms thy name Resounding from thy high walled sheer! How sweet thy water's far acclaim That bursts upon my pricking ear! How beams my eye with kindling flame As to thy presence I draw near, Where beautied grandure's falling swell Weaves still time's awful, mystic spell! I gaze at thee from nearest shore, Close by the impending brink, In wonder at thy fearful pour Of waters, til, amazèd more Than I can tell or think, I only see thy mist's fine shower That wafts upon these walls, And vision dim that mighty Power, The Great Spirit of the Falls. II But lo ! up stream, in fitful dream, The rolling, rumbling rapids roar, And toss and tilt and turn and teem, And gurgle in their cascades' gleam From isle to isle and isle to shore; And oft repeat the dazzling feat, Display their leaping wonders more, Rush round the rocks with flaring locks, Lead as bellweathers do their flocks, While through their tree-trimmed way they pour, These bounding waters, fleet, more fleet, To gather in one onward rush Adown their troubled, rocky bed, And struggle, straggle, gurgle, gush, To follow where their leaders led; But panting now for breath, They stagger to the edge Of overhanging ledge, Fearing the plunge beneath; When forth in foam their fellows come, Cheering and jeering the faltering and fearing, Till onto the precipice they rush with a roar, Exulting and leaping, as comrades before; Yet staring, stumbling, crashing, crumbling, As host with host o'erpowering, Each glistening wight of air commingled, They fall in gulf devouring; Or, flaring, flashing, darting, dashing, To break as gleaming snow, While splitting, splashing, gnawing, gnashing Upon the rocks below; Whence o'er the heights their spirits towering, Sweeping, swaying, rising, lowering, Rejoin the ceaseless flow, That with recurring, falling shock, Born on the wind's bluff blast, Wears e'er amain the shelving rock, And undermines aghast. There as by mighty hand, A cavern forms, carved by the storms Of vexed spray's pelting wave; And in that rocky cave Rough columns stand with altar grand; While fittingly conforms The spray-worn dome and bowlder pave, Round which reëcho e'er a stave Of wailing wind's weird band; And there before the cavern door, Attended with intoning roar, E'er falls the Bridal Veil And sweeps the filmy rail, Which now through Bridal Hall are fanned, Now screen that Wind's Cave from the land. Continue reading "Niagara by Arthur William Fisher"
It’s Niagara lost
in the 20th century, disappeared
from the cereal box, up in mist,
a canvas backdrop in one hundred thousand
dead photographs, fading from postcards,
gone to Bermuda, Disney World, flown
to Aruba, splish took a bath at Niagara
splash went to Vegas for the weekend—
but had room at the motel
for Joseph and Marilyn
and were they impressed?
There’s no record of it.
But the first human record at Niagara
before it had name–the first human at ?
who left a flint spear point, water
falling at the whirlpool then,
at old gorge, and the spear point:
dropped in fear, in awe,
in wonder at new water,
ice falling who thought of it as !
Wandering hunter, archaeologists say, who
if he were there at all, didn’t stay long,
as if he had, for months let’s say, they’d
have known—would have found the tree
against which he relieved himself,
charcoal trace on stone, where he
cooked fish—as if no Niagara rock
has been left unturned.
The most recent evidence indicates he
did stay but a brief time—only minutes—
that dizzy from spoiled fish innards
he stumbled out of the woods
toward thunder, saw falling water, stared
slack-jawed into mists and steam rising
against south gorge wall, had visions:
The wall exploding, water rushing forth
gnawing south, divers fearful things—
dropped his spear, fled empty-handed
and throwing up back among the trees
and who wouldn’t have?
What he saw: the sun rising and setting
3 million 647 thousand 445 times, ten
thousand winters and springs, trees
leafing out, hot suns, leaves coloring,
withering, dropping, snows whirling,
grass greening, fogs gathering, rains,
trees dying, toppling, new trees as slim
as spears growing thicker than his body,
salamanders mating between his gnarled toes,
mice nibbling algae from his ankles, a wolf
marking territory on his left shin
I. Who has not had a wish t'inspect Niagara's famed cataract ? And all the wonders to explore From Erie to Ontario's shore ? The battles, lately fought between ; Give lively interest to the scene ; And lead the curious stranger round, To scrutinize each battle ground. But sentiments more noble far, Than thoughts of that unnatural war, The scenery around inspires, And every feeling bosom fires. II. The Boat had stemm'd Ontario's tide, And anchor'd on the southern side ; A noble river with its waves, Two rival nations' confines laves ; That Giant stream, which through the lakes Of Canada, its circuit makes, And issuing from Ontario About two hundred miles below, (After so long a pilgrimage, Less holy name were sacrilege) Assumes St. Lawrence, name of awe But here 'tis called Niagara. III. Upon this river's eastern side, A Fortress stands in warlike pride ; Ontario's surges lash its base, And gradually its walls deface ; And, from its topmost tower display'd, A flag, with stripes and stars portray'd ; Upon the west an ancient mound, The Union Jack and - British ground : Nor distant far another stands, Which the whole river's mouth commands. Between the two lay Newark village, Which yet they let its neighbours pillage ; Nor only so, but burn it down ; And from its ashes now has grown, Another, but more lovely far, Since the conclusion of the war Which they have nam'd Niagara. Continue reading "Wonders of the West; or, A Day at the Falls of Niagara in 1825: a poem by a Canadian [ James Lynne Alexander ]"