Niagara Falls by George W. Reese

reese
Headstone of G.W. Reese
Photo by Bob Glover on Find a Grave

Man may look with wonder at the pyramids,
May stand unabashed before the deep blue ocean,
And flee with hasty steps the wild commotion
Of trembling earthquakes on the continent !
I have looked with wonder at the statue of Apollo,
That stretched its brazen legs and ponderous feet
Across the harbor while the distant fleet
Of Egypt sink behind the waves and rise,
As seen through the brazen statue’s glassy eyes,
But all the wonders of the world are but a mite,
They are only frail toys and bubbles in thy sight,
They’d sink like broken reeds beneather thy endless pow’r ;
In the deep and dark abyss with thundering roar !

Tell me, O mighty cataract, for how many ages,
Before Homer sang or before the ancient sages
Lived and toiled for fame, then died,
Had thy foaming, tumbling, and incessant tide
Sent through the wilderness and along the craggy shore
The rebounding echo of thy sullen roar ?
Tell me how long before the Roman Empire rose and fell,
Or along the Nile was heard a trembling knell,
When the last Pharaoh to death’s summons bowed,
And gave his royal sceptre for a winding shroud,
Had thy crushing water fell without an eye to wonder
Or an ear to hear the echo of thy thunder ?

Thou art wonderful, and magnificently grand !
And mirrored in thy watery foam I see the hand
That hurls the planets in their fearful course,
That speeds the comets and that curbs the force
Of the volcanoes’ rushing fiery tide !
But what are these, O mighty cataract, compared with thee ?
What the ley Alpine hills or maddened sea ?
Yet when I see the bow that spans thy watery spray
The vision of thy fearful vortex fades away;
Then I only see the larger Isis and the gentle shower,
And bow before thee, thou mighty emblem of Eternal Power !

“Written at Niagara Falls for The Dansville Express



Source: The Danville Express, August 12, 1886

Obituary of George W, Reese (Click to enlarge)

The River of Stars: A Legend of Niagara by Alfred Noyes

The lights of a hundred cities are fed
    by its midnight power.
Their wheels are moved by its thunder.
    But they, too, have their hour.
The tale of the Indian lovers, a cry
    from the years that are flown,
        While the river of stars is rolling,
            Rolling away to the darkness,
Abides with the power in the midnight,
    where love may find its own.

She watched from the Huron tents, till
    the first star shook in the air.
The sweet pine scented her fawn-skins,
    and breathed from her braided hair.
Her crown was of milk-white blood-
    root, because of the tryst she would
    keep
        Beyond the river of beauty
            That drifted away in the
                darkness,
Drawing the sunset thro' lilies, with
    eyes like stars, to the deep.

He watched, like a tall young wood-
    god, from the red pine that she
    named;
But not for the peril behind him, where
    the eyes of the Mohawks flamed.
Eagle-plumed he stood.   But his heart
    was hunting afar,
        Where the river of longing whis-
                pered
              .  .  .  And one swift shaft from
                the darkness
Felled him, her name in his death-cry,
    his eyes on the sunset star.

She stole from the river and listened.
    The moon on her wet skin shone.
As a silver birch in the pine-wood, her
    beauty flashed and was gone.
There was no wave in the forest.    The
    dark arms closed her round.
        But the river of life went
                flowing,
            Flowing away to the darkness,
For her breast grew red with his
    heart's blood, in a night where the
    stars are drowned.

“Teach me, O my lover, as you taught
    me of love in a day,
Teach me of death, and for ever, and
    set my feet on the way
To the land of the happy shadows, the
    land where you are flown.”
         And the river of death went
                 weeping,
            Weeping away to the dark-
                ness.—
“Is the hunting good, my lover, so good
    that you hunt alone?”

She rose to her feet like a shadow.
    She sent a cry thro' the night,—
“Sa-sa-kuon,”  the death-whoop, that
    tells of triumph in fight.
It broke from the bell of her mouth
    like the cry of a wounded bird,
        But the river of agony swelled it
            And swept it along to the
                darkness,
And the Mohawks, couched in the
    darkness, leapt to their feet as they
    heard.

Close as the ring of the clouds that
    menace the moon with death,
At once they circled her round. Her
    bright breast panted for breath.
With only her own wild glory keeping
    the wolves at bay,
        While the river of parting whis-
                pered,
            Whispered away to the dark-
                ness,
She looked in their eyes for a moment,
    and strove for a word to say.

“Teach me, O my lover!"—She set her
    foot on the dead.
She laughed on the painted faces with
    their rings of yellow and red,—
“I thank you, wolves of the Mohawk,
    for a woman's hands might fail.
        —And the river of vengeance
                chuckled,
            Chuckled away to the dark-
                ness,—
“But ye have killed where I hunted. I
    have come to the end of my trail.

“I thank you, braves of the Mohawk,
    who laid this thief at my feet.
He tore my heart out living, and tossed
    it his dogs to eat.
Ye have taught him of death in a
    moment, as he taught me of love in
    a day.”
        —And the river of passion
                deepened,
            Deepened and rushed to the
                darkness.—
“And yet may a woman requite you,
    and set your feet on the way.

“For the woman that spits in my face,
    and the shaven heads that gibe,
This night shall a woman show you the
    tents of the Huron tribe.
They are lodged in a deep valley.
    With all things good it abounds.
        Where the red-eyed, green-
                mooned river
            Glides like a snake to the dark-
                ness,
I will show you a valley, Mohawks, like
    the Happy Hunting Grounds.

“Follow!” They chuckled, and followed
    like wolves to the glittering stream.
Shadows obeying a shadow, they
    launched their canoes in a dream.
Alone, in the first, with the blood on
    her breast, and her milk-white crown,
        She stood. She smiled at them,
                Follow!
            Then urged her canoe to the
                darkness,
And, silently flashing their paddles, the
    Mohawks followed her down.

And now—as they slid thro' the pine-
    woods with their peaks of midnight
    blue,
She heard, in the broadening distance,
    the deep sound that she knew,
A mutter of steady thunder that grew
    as they glanced along;
          But ever she glanced before them
              And glanced away to the dark-
                    ness;–
And or ever they heard it rightly, she
    raised her voice in a song:—

“The wind from the Isles of the Blessèd,
    it blows across the foam.
It sings in the flowing maples of the
    land that was my home.
Where the moose is a morning's hunt,
    and the buffalo feeds from the
    hand."—
        And the river of mockery
                broadened,
            Broadened and rolled to the
                darkness—
“And the green maize lifts its feathers,
    and laughs the snow from the land.”

The river broadened and quickened.
    There was nought but river and sky.
The shores were lost in the darkness.
    She laughed and lifted a cry ;
“Follow me! Sa-sa-kuon!"  Swifter
    and swifter they swirled—
        And the flood of their doom
                went flying,
            Flying away to the darkness,
“Follow me, follow me, Mohawks, ye
are shooting the edge of the world.”

They struggled like snakes to return.
    Like straws they were whirled on
    her track.
For the whole flood swooped to that
    edge where the unplumbed night
    dropt black,
The whole flood dropt to a thunder in
    an unplumbed hell beneath,
         And over the gulf of the thunder
             A mountain of spray from the
                 darkness 
Rose and stood in the heavens, like a     
    shrouded image of death.

She rushed like a star before them.
    The moon on her glorying shone.
“Teach me, O my lover!”—her cry
    flashed out and was gone.
A moment they battled behind her.
    They lashed with their paddles and
    lunged;
        Then the Mohawks, turning
                their faces
            Like a blood-stained cloud to
                the darkness,
Over the edge of Niagara swept together
    and plunged.

And the lights of a hundred cities are
    fed by the ancient power;
But a cry returns with the midnight;
    for they, too, have their hour.
Teach me, O my lover, as you taught
    me of love in a day,
        —While the river of stars is rolling,
                Rolling away to the darkness,
Teach me of death, and for ever, and
    set my feet on the way!


Source: Noyes, Alfred (poem); Bawden, Clarence K. (music)The River of Stars: A Legend of Niagara. New York: G. Schirmer, 1917. [sheet music excerpt]

From Poetry Atlas:

Alfred Noyes was born in England and studied at Exeter College, Oxford (though he did not complete his degree). He spent long periods of his life in America, including the years of World War II. From 1914 to 1923 he was Professor of Modern English Literature at Princeton University in New Jersey. After the death of his first wife in 1926, he converted to Roman Catholicism. He later remarried and lived in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. He is buried on the Isle of Wight, at Frewshwater.







			

Sad Story by Win Valiquette

There was a young lady named Carol
Who found herself in a big barrel.
It went over the Falls
Amid many loud calls....
There ONCE was a lady named Carol


Source: Laroque, Corey. Here’s What the Poets are Saying. Niagara Falls, Ont.: Niagara Falls Review, November 21, 2009

This limerick was entered into the So You Think You Can Rhyme (2009) Limerick Contest to find Niagara Falls’ Poet Laureate

Go to the Limericks page

The 74th Anniversary of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane by S.A.C. (Sarah Anne Curzon?)

S.A.C.
Sculpture of General George Drummond in Drummond Hill Cemetery, 1995
Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library.

Fought 25th July, 1814

Upon this hill where now we gently tread,
’Mid graves and stones—memorials of the dead,
Where greenest turf and sweetest flowerets smile,
And whispering leaves to sacred thoughts beguile—
Where gathering free, with none to break our peace,
From meaner thoughts we claim a short surcease.
We pause, and list to awful memories far
When from this height boomed forth the roar of war.
Soft contrast this to that fierce day and night,
When surge of battle hither rolled in might ;
When shot and shell ploughed all the trampled ground,
And wounded, dead, and dying dropped around.
Pharsalia, not upon thy dreadful plain
Lay in more frequent heaps the gory slain !
But, O proud contrast ! there Ambition fought,
And personal ends the conquering Cæsar sought ;
But here, ’twas Patriotism fired the fight,
And Drummond struck to save our dearest right.—
Drummond, whose name still lives in proud Quebec,
Shall saved Niagara’s foot be on thy neck ?
Can Lundy’s Lane untrue to Drummond live,
Or grudge thy memory all she had to give ?—
Thy right, O Canada, thy Drummond sought,
And from high justice all his valour caught.
He traversed not another’s right To Be,
But sternly guarded thy sweet liberty.
What asks the patriot more? He knows but this—
His country and her welfare very his.
Her honour his, her greatness all his care ;
Quick to defend, her woes his willing share ;
Her name his pride, her future but his own ;
Each word and deed, seed for her harvest sown.
What asks the patriot more? For her to live,
Or gladly for her life his own to give.
Such were thy sons, O Canada, that fought for thee,
Sprung from the boundless West, or utmost sea.
Such are thy sons to-day—the same their sires—
Or French or British quick with loyal fires.
Here on this holy hill their bodies lie
As thick as stars that stud the winter sky.
Here on this hill baptized indeed with fire,
As from an altar may their flames aspire.
O Canada ! Thou of the seven-fold bond ;
Let evermore such sons in thee be found ;
Let evermore thy sons thy guardians be,
High-souled and pure, CONTENT IF THOU BE FREE.

S.A.C.
21st July, 1889        


Source: The Dominion Illustrated, vol. III, No. 59, August 17, 1889

The poem was signed S.A.C. S.A.C. was likely  Sarah Anne Curzon

Read other poems about the War of 1812 in Niagara

The chant of rocks is the falls (after Emily Lee Luan) by Margaret Simon

simon
Wildflowers at Niagara Falls, Oct. 2023
Photo by Margaret Simon

is the rush of gravity
is the impulse of water*
is the pull of a mother… child
is the everlasting light of the sun
is the building of power
is the electricity of ages
is the reflection of rainbows
is the promise of peace
is the waking of a dream
is the shift of river
to fall.


From Margaret Simon:

For Fall break, my husband and I visited Niagara Falls. This trip was a bucket list item for me. The Falls did not disappoint. They are an amazing feat of nature, the kind that cannot be captured in a photo or video. You have to be there to hear the sounds of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water falling each second. I took a lot of pictures, but when I look at them now, they pale in comparison to the real live event. I’m so happy we did this trip. I highly recommend it. If you are planning to go, let me know. I have suggestions.

This morning’s (October 18, 2023) Poem-a-Day from the Academy of American Poets was by Emily Lee Luan The warble of melting snow is the river. I borrowed her form for my own poem. I find that using a form helps me get out of my head and allowing creativity to do its magic.


Margaret Simon is a Mississippi native who married into a Louisiana life.  She lives on the Bayou Teche in New Iberia, Louisiana with her husband, Jeff.  Their now empty nest once housed three daughters, Maggie, Katherine, and Martha.  Margaret has been an elementary school teacher for 31 years, most recently teaching gifted students in Iberia Parish.  She has published poems in the journal The Aurorean, anthologies for Today’s Little Ditty, in Poetry Friday Power Book Here We Go, and in National Geographic’s the Poetry of US.  Border Press published her collection of poems with her father’s Christmas card art, Illuminate in fall of 2013.  Blessen, a novel for young readers, was published in April 2012, also by Border Press.  In 2018, UL Press published her first book of children’s poetry, Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape.  In her teaching profession, she has a Masters degree in Gifted Education and certification by the National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards.  Margaret writes a blog regularly at http://reflectionsontheteche.com.