At Niagara by Clark W. Bryan

The American Falls from Below
illustration for this poem from Good Housekeeping Magazine


GREAT waters gathered from far mountain streams,
From murmuring rivulets, rushing rivers,
And broadened lakes enchained with silvery links,
All held within the hollow of God’s Hand,
To be poured boldly, generously out
Upon His trembling footstool, swinging now
In space, that once was without form and void.

To look and listen where these waters fall,
Grave thoughts come thick and fast, but words are few ;
The inmost soul fain lists and looks in awe,
And yet how forcefully it throbs against
Its prison walls, as if to tear away
The shreds of flesh and nerve that bind it fast.

Sentiment keeps silence, thought steals away,
Erewhile such Real Presence passes by ;
Idea wanders aimlessly about,
Anear the throne of such immensity,
Where grandeur and magnificence hold sway
’ Mid rolling thunder’s warring elements,
Above the fearful sweep of perilous descent,
Rushing down ‘ neath bending bows of beauty,
In diapason deep, in whelming sound,
And sending up along its rocky balustrade,
The smoke of incense to the Heavens above.

From seething caldrons full and overflowing,
Where witches wild and furies fierce come up,
From seething wells of foam, enclosed and held
By rocky walls, by cliff and precipice,
By frowning battlements worn and beaten,
Seamed and scarred by gathering storms of years,
By telling ravages of Time and Age,
But holding well and firmly their allotted place
As when “ In the beginning ” it was said,
By Him, “ Let there be light ; and there was light. ”

Niagara ! where rainbows rest in beauty,
Where majesty sublime sits full enthroned,
Where Power Eternal walks and waits,
Where weak and finite strength dares not approach
The Infinite, mankind full well may gaze,
May listen , meditate and moralize,
Coming not too near, but worshiping afar,
May ask, “ Who built these ribbed and rocky walls ?
“ Who pours these gathered rapids with such force,
“ Headlong adown their steep and rugged way,
“ Into the fathomless abyss below ?
“ Who holds these foaming torrents in their place,
“ Taking their full measure, calms their violence,
“ And bids them go in peace again , to bear
“ The sails of commerce and to turn the wheels
“ Of the great world’s industries anew ? ”

‘ Twere well to ask, and those who ask and say
There is no God, may look and list and learn
A lesson full of meaning and of moment,
From out the book of nature, boldly spread
Before the eyes of man above, below,
Or near where falls the waters of Niagara.

Such restless volume ever flowing on,
And falling ever ; always following
Closely in the wake of what has gone before,
Plunging madly down this fearful cataract,
On through angry whirlpools, grand old gorges,
Soon calmly waiting in some sleeping lake,
Or held in close embrace by sunny slopes
Or broad and bending river, dotted thick
At times with rock-bound, leaf-embowered
Homes of water nymphs on Isles of Thousands,
Where beauty reigns and rest for man is found.

Great waters , moving on , in motion ever,
As though from out the world of which we know,
Away to distant realms of unknown seas ,
Where “ deep calleth unto deep,” and where
The streams that once dashed down Niagara’s rocks,
So weird and wild are now engulfed and lose
Themselves among the ceaseless rolling billows
Of the boundless ocean—going out in turn,
From mountain brooks, from restless rivers,
And placid lakes, as from the stream of Time,
Into the realms of a vast Eternity ;
Rolling ever on, ever and forever,
Where proudly stand Niagara’s world-famed rocks,
Mirroring in thought the earthly life of man,
From mountain rill, rough water-tides and currents,
Each in their course presenting features rich and rare ;
Intermingling reverent thought with low inquiry : —
“ Who poureth all these waters from His hands, ”
“ From which uprise the thunders of Niagara ? ”

To answer give to inquiries that come
Forcefully to the human soul and sense,
While sitting at Niagara’s feet,
With eyes and ears filled with all the wondrous
Sights and sounds which there come crowding in upon
The contemplative mind, wrapt in reverent thought,
Where whirlwinds roar, and incense rises
Heavenward, the human voice dares not give
Answer to these soul questionings at once : —
“ Who poureth all these waters from His hands ? ”
“ Who holdeth them in bounds so close and firm ? ”
“ Who bids them go in peace from out their rocky
“ Fastnesses ? Who sends them forth in peaceful
“ Paths toward the sea, o’erwhelmed and lost,
“ Within the boundless realms of waves and tides
“ And billows ? ”
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Man may not boldly venture
To reply, where heavenward rise the thunders
Of Niagara’s fall .

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡But still there comes
The same inquiry, whether within hearing
Of the deafening roar of wind and wave,
Or out upon Ontario’s placid face,
Or down the restless rapids of St. Lawrence,
In its course, or when engulfed within the
Billowy embrace of the broad Atlantic,
Holding itself in quick abeyance to a
Spirit nature that falls in tones sublime
Upon the mortal ear, save to recite
From out the book of Holy Writ, wherein
We read that in the Morning of Creation
The bounds were set and lines were closely drawn
Between “ the waters under the heavens,
And the dry land called earth ” for aye and ever.

God ” saw that this was good ,” and ever hence
Have poured, and continually will pour, in bounds
Already set,, on through coming ages,
And pass unchanged, the waters At Niagara.

Source: Good Housekeeping, February, 1894

Bryan was the founder and editor (1885-1899) of Good Housekeeping magazine. Read more about Bryan here.

Poem by A. S. Ridgely

American and Horseshoe Falls
From Niagara, Its History, Incidents and Poetry by Richard L. Johnson

“Man lays his scepter on the ocean waste,
His footprints stiffen in the Alpine snows,
But only God moves visibly in Thee,
O King of Floods! that with resistless fate
Down plungest in thy mighty width and depth.
*    *    *   *   *  Amazement, terror, fill,
Impress and overcome the gazer’s soul.

Man’s schemes and dreams and petty littleness
Lie open and revealed.     Himself far less—
Kneeling before thy great confessional—
Than are the bubbles of the passing tides.
Words may not picture thee, nor pencil paint
Thy might of waters, volumed vast and deep;
Thy many-toned and all-pervading voice;
Thy wood-crown’d Isle, fast anchor’d on the brink
Of the dread precipice; thy double stream,
Divided, yet in beauty unimpaired;
Thy wat’ry caverns and thy crystal walls;
Thy crest of sunlight and thy depths of shade,
Boiling and seething like a Phlegethon
Amid the wind-swept and convolving spray,
Steady as Faith and beautiful as Hope.
There, of beam and cloud the fair creation,
The rainbow arches its ethereal hues.
From flint and granite in compacture strong;
Not with steel thrice harden’d—but with the wave
Soft and translucent—did the new-born Time
Chisel thy altars.     Here hast thou ever poured
Earth’s grand libation to Eternity,
Thy misty incense rising unto God—
The God that was and is and is to be.”

Source:  Johnson, Richard L. (ed).  Niagara: Its History, Incidents and Poetry. Washington, Walter Neale General Book Publisher, 1898
Also published in Holley, George W., ed.  The Falls of Niagara.  Baltimore: A.C. Armstrong & Son, 1883  (N.B. Holley mentions this poem by Ridgely is an excerpt from a larger work.)
Also published in Dow, Charles Mason. Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls. Albany: State of New York, 1921.


Apostrophe to Niagara by R. L. Johnson

Niagara Falls From Prospect Point, c1900
Image courtesy of Library of Congress



Cyclopean torrent, this thy throne,
Which man but yesterday hath known,
Through all thy countless ages flown,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Creation’s masterpiece.

How wonderful and vast thou art!
Grand Pantheon of Omniscient art!
Thy flood-gates demonstrate thou art
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡“Without a parallel!”

Awe-struck I hear the passing crowd
Of heaving storm waves thundering loud,
And see them writing here the proud
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Grand Autograph of God.

A thousand waves on dress parade
Urge on the crowding cavalcade,
Which pauses on the brink, afraid
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The awful plunge to take.

See yon gigantic wave command
The myriad troopers, as they stand
Erect, with flashing sword in hand,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡To charge the host below!

Adown they charge, that mighty force,
Resistless in its downward course;
The rider and the foaming horse —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Brigade Victorious!


Thy grand façade, with curtains down,
Presents no monster’s ugly frown,
But, like a maiden’s bridal gown,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡A robe of beauty is.

Its elevation reaches high,
And fain would touch the changing sky,
Its falling waters ever cry,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Rejoicing as they leap:

“Majestic fleets that float their flags,
And brave Old Ocean’s rocky crags,
Dare not approach our rugged snags,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Nor Titan-fashioned front.

“Some noble bards have done their best
To praise Mt. Etna’s blazing crest,
Yet, we could flood the monarch’s nest
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And crop his golden curls,

“And challenge heaven’s bright sentry stars
To find beneath his lavic bars
A spark, to light their gilded cars,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Before the blaze of morn.”

Primeval tribes no more shall roam
Thy banks to pitch their tented home,
Whose fairest daughters made thy foam
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Their willing sepulchre.

For here they gathered once a year,
With festive dance and savage cheer,
And sacrificed, without a tear,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The fairest of the tribe.


Thy organ notes with thunderous roar,
Sound the Creator’s lofty score
Of Love and Mercy evermore,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡In grand diapason.

Beyond this temple vast and dim,
Methinks thy anthem, psalm, or hymn,
Floods in sweet melody to Him
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Who waits the grand Amen!

Sheets of sunfire blaze and quiver
On thy waves, O boist’rous river,
As they leap to foam and shiver,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Adown this gulf of death!

Deep undercurrents night and day,
An everlasting power display,
Exhaustless, unconfined, they play,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Unfathomed, unrestrained.

Take in the sight around—about,
And know, Vain Man ! beyond a doubt,
God’s power is here past finding out —
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Eternal mystery.

Oft have I sat, in quiet hour,
Beside this emblem of God’s power,
And fancied Eden’s sacred bower
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡No symbol had like this.

Emotionful our souls should know
He placed that graceful radiant bow
To span the hurricane below,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡In token of His love.

Thou Sacrilegious Man—go hence!
How futile is thy vain pretence
To scoff and doubt Omnipotence,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Arrayed in glory here!

Ere Cheops’ Pyramidal pile
Stood reared upon the classic Nile,
Was cut thy rough, rock-ribbed defile
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡By ante-glacial flood!

From yonder tower view Queenston’s height,
Hennepin was denied the sight,
From whence thou struggled in the night
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of the primeval dawn.

The windings of thy crystal shoe,
Church faithfully portrayed, ’tis true,
The canvas shows a bygone view.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Pride of the ” Corcoran.”


When Winter steps upon the stage.
White-cowled and solemn as a sage,
Thou dost display an ample page
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of glistening ice-moss bright;   

Ice Apples
From the book Niagara, Its History, Incidents ad Poetry

Then icy apples moonlit shine
On evergreens at midnight time,
And then thou seemest most sublime,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡In snowy satin robed.

Translucent columns, purest white,
Glisten in the morning light;
Prismatic scene of rare delight,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of hues Elysian;

Here snow-capped mountains block thy flow,
While crystal diamonds crown the show,
And icy bridges form below,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡To span a Paradise.


The flower is pledged unto the bee,
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Our northern floods are pledged to thee,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Thou thundering watersheet!

And yet, O Thunderer, what art thou
To Him with iridescent brow,
Who guides thy grand retreating prow,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡That whispers of His might;

And notches on these walls of stone
His hieroglyphics, yet thine own,
To make thy soundless ages known,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Through glyptic monographs.

Who wrote his name, “The Unseen God,”
In burning letters, fiery shod,
On Terrapin Tower, once trod
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡By bold adventurers;

When lo! ’twas hurled from heaven to hell,
The tottering, grand old sentinel,
Where oft I went to view the well,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Above thy plunging floods.


God gave thee queenly sisters three,
Faith, Hope and glorious Charity,
And placed the Iris Isle to be
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡A brooch to pin thy veil.

He sent the morn with rustling wings,
And filled the vales with babbling springs,
And gave the birds their color’d wings
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And sweetly charming notes.

To praise thy cascades most sublime,
Thro’ every land, thro’ every clime,
Whose opalescent rainbows shine
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡To prove His promise true.

He heaved the snow-clad mountains up.
To fill old Erie’s vine-clad cup,
With waters sweet for thee to sup.
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Majestic Orator!

He listeth in thy cave sublime,
And speaketh in that voice of thine,
And rideth on the storms of Time,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Which lash the Island’s home.

A spectacle personified,
May here be seen at midnight tide;
And lovers with the greatest pride
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡May view a modest beau.

He courts the Queen of Night by day,
At Ev’n song he tints the spray;
At peep of dawn he fades away—
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The opal lunar bow.

For the lost Eden, search no more,
In myth or prehistoric lore;
That question’s settled, evermore,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡On this, the Sacred Isle,

Whose ferns and mosses scent the breeze,
Where east and west each soul agrees,
The Tigris and the Euphrates
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Flow swiftly, gladly on.


How bright and grand to thee did seem
This world arrayed in living green,
While Luna, robed in silvery sheen,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Her nightly vigils kept,

With gleaming light and lunar bow,
Thy phantom flood of joy and woe,
A milky stream of ceaseless flow,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡A phosphorescent dream;

‘Till paler man, with selfish soul,
Held in his hand a parchment scroll,
And taxed his neighbors, ev’ry soul—
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Infinite Oracle!

Who came to list thy voice so true,
And view thy waters, green and blue,
And marvel at thy emerald shoe
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Whose hoof an empire is!

Seated on the “Rock of Ages,”
While musing o’er the sacred pages,
Indited by inspir’d sages,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡I heard a spirit say:

“Let lions roar and people sing,
And eagles flutter on the wing,
While all the bells in steeples ring
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡For thee, Niagara,

“A jubilation loud and grand,
From frigid zones to torrid strand,
For Dufferin ope’d, with lordly hand,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Thy flood-gates tribute free.

“Now may thy incense heavenward soar,
And thy tempestuous billows roar
Their solemn protests, o’er and o’er
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Thy crest, Niagara.

“‘Till Justice, with concordant wand.
And Liberty with outstretched hand,
Shall welcome pilgrims as they land
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡On Freedom’s happy shore.

“And guard with zealous care for aye,
Thy mighty organ, night and day,
That all the world may hear it play,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡With unvexed harmony.

“Until discordant war’s alarms,
And conflicts of contending arms.
Are silenced by thy mad’ning charms,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Plunge on, Niagara!

“Nor let thy eyelids ever close,
In Neptune’s arms in sweet repose,
‘Till all the nations shall disclose,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Like thee, Niagara,

“A charity as broad and deep
As is thine own encircling steep,
Or as thy vortex where we peep
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Thro’ azure mists to heaven.”


In thee alone, Niagara,
Whose vast foundations seamed and knit
And bound by adamantine bars;
Methinks the Grecian bard would find
Meet inspiration for his noblest song,
And not in Trojan wars;
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡For here dwells Liberty.

While myriad sunlit, liquid pearls
Obscure thy bubbling pools and whirls,
Our goddess stoops, with golden curls,
To sip thy hydromel.

Proud Bedloe’s Isle may sound her horn—
Bartholdi’s gift her coast adorn;
But till her birthday’s final morn,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Here dwelleth Liberty.

In search of gain and worldly pelf,
The robber here hath shown himself,
And like the ox amid the delf,
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡He would this figure break.

Let press and voice at once condemn
The spoiler who would steal a gem
From off the glittering diadem
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Of this majestic stream.

Though “Hope’s bright star” is sometimes pale,
Let Hope, not Fear, in man prevail;
The misty Ghost within the veil
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Proves life’s resurrection.

Alas! Niagara, what are we
Frail creatures when compared to thee?
Yet, what art thou to Deity?—
‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡But Insignificance.

Source:  Johnson, Richard L. (ed).  Niagara: Its History, Incidents and Poetry. Washington: Walter Neale General Book Publisher, 1898

The Gorge of Niagara by Ada Elizabeth Fuller

Gorge of the Niagara River
from Niagara Falls: America’s Scenic Wonders
Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Within the mighty Gorge I stand alone,
‡‡But little more than those small grains of sand
Which lie unnumbered, where the wave-worn shore
‡‡Stretched out to grasp them in its open hand.
But high above the river’s mighty voice,
‡‡A crystal throat brings in its note of charm—
The steady drip of water on a ledge
‡‡Of rocks, upheaved as by some mighty arm.

O’erhead the trees, with pray’rful murmurings,
‡‡Breathe soft to all the winds that flutter by—
The breezes that but came a moment hence
‡‡And went their airy journey with a sigh.
The river winds its fretful way along,
‡‡But deep within its plaintings, great and small,
I hear the mighty Maker’s mighty voice
‡‡In thousand thund’rous accents rise and fall.

Source:  Ada Elizabeth Fuller.  Sunshine and Shadow: Poems by Ada Elizabeth Fuller.  Niagara Falls, Ont. Ada Elizabeth Fuller, 1919

The Centennial: A Poem Written on the Centenary of St. Mark’s Church, Niagara by Rev. J.C. Garrett

St. Mark’s Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake
from The Centennial Poem

Hail ! all hail ! dear old St. Mark’s !
We greet thee joyfully, and well
Upward thy praise. As sky-larks
Sing, o’er field and wooded dell,
Far up in heaven’s own blue,
We, too, would sing thy fame,
And tell abroad thy name
Of worth and, honor true.
Ring ! ring ! loud and merry bell !
And thou, great organ, thunder too !
Wide open every swell !
Join every voice anew,
Out on the morning air, to tell
Thy story true and well,
On this thy day Centennial !


O SACRED PILE ! thine age thou bearest well !
Over Niagara’s harbor, at Ontario’s head,
Between Forts George and Mississaugua dread,
Through a full century thou hast stood sentinel.
Where, standing still, as beacon on a hill,
Far out from haven, thy square tower we view ;
Above whose summit, higher rising still,
Waves in the breeze our flag — Red, White and Blue —
For churchmen true are loyal everywhere ;
Who to the State gave being, ever bear
Upon their hearts its interests with a will.
Nor can be loyalty, if in thy precincts fair
It be not found : to king and country true,
Our sires, than power, or fame, or glittering gold,
Honor esteemed, which must to country hold
Their sons and thine, and other loves dispel,
By ties of living and the bonds of dead.


Grand old St. Mark’s ! he treads on hallowed ground,
Who over thy gates’ threshold sets his foot ;
For all around thy witnesses, though mute,
By life and death its sacredness profound
Proclaim. Blended in thee is found the dust
Of soldier brave and sailor bold, the wise,
Poet and patriot, priest and humbler just,
Waiting the day and call again to rise.
Rest they together in a peace most true,
In hidden spot or place more clear to view ;
‘Neath Christian sign, or heathen urn or crust
Of marble pale, which tastes of times devise,
That yet a coming time could never suit.
But yet what matters such, when loves entwine,
And rise beyond the shade of earthly sign,
And but the clay lies resting in the ground ?


If there be place within our earth’s confines
Than other place more sacred, sweet and pure
(No other’s more of love and honor sure,
How far soever we may stretch the lines),
It is this place, where, from turmoil secure,
Our simple praises rise an upward stream,
Till glows the heart as when the captives dream
Of lands where freedom’s sun forever shines ;
And when the heavenly mysteries are spread,
Age by the aged to God’s board is led —
Most saintly men, whose earthly duty done,
Look towards the land of never-setting sun —
In verity, it makes thee sweetly seem
The gate of heaven and pathway to our Head ;
While all around us lie, in peaceful sleep,
Our best beloved, who used with us to keep
Sad vigil and the joyful holy-day,
Whose souls o’er Jordan winged from us away,
That they some foretaste of that joy might reap,
Which we with them to share both hope and pray,
Sweetness itself thou art ! Thy life in Him
We prove in prayer, in praise, and rite ; though dim
Our view, our faith is clear, and brighter love.
Our prayer thus joined to solemn chant and hymn
In thee below, we rise to things above :
Our treasure there, though still our hearts are here ;
Yet our affection is as sure on high ;
For love of thee foreshadows as we move,
The coming love, for which we often sigh,
Which shall be ours, when we have victory won ;
And from each face Himself shall wipe last tear —
The God so distant, yet in Christ more nigh
Than even thou, the fabric held so dear !


High on the bank, ‘mid beauteous setting
Of feathery willow, chestnut-tree and pine,
By which the river flows, as if forgetting
Its leap sublime ; its seething, swirling, fretting ;
Its rush and roar, adown the steep decline,
Into the massy goblet, never quaffed,
Held in His hidden hand. Who made and lined
It of a russet hue, with gold unfined ;
And yet around which demons must have laughed,
If helpless victim drawn adown its shaft
To them give joy, whose depths we cannot sound ;
Within whose lips the water, bright blue-green,
With foam-flecked surface, as each age has seen,
Must wind and whirl, as demons had their spoon
Deep plunged therein, and stirred in turn from e’en
Till midnight, then to morn, anon to noon,
And yet to night again — repeating round
And round within its awful circle’s bound.
Anon in sober majesty to flow,
In stately grandeur now its way to find
Into Ontario’s arms, which round it twine
As if, at length, embrace of mother sweet,
Returning child, after adventurous feat,
With welcome eager happily did greet ;
Of both the love and life— so it appears—
To make complete, and back on thee to throw
Their happiness, in such bright golden glow
As rests on faces which have done with tears,
Thou hast been placed Centurion of years.


Away down yonder, at thy feet below,
Where breezes raise the swell, and onward waft
Beyond the bar, where danger’s stealthiest
Steps are taken to rob live’s wealthiest,
On the lake’s heaving bosom may be seen,
As if the folds of flowing robe between,
All hidden now, again each one appears.
Well manned by such as nothing know of fears —
The humblest ever are the healthiest —
The fisher-boats ; beyond which farther far,
Curling from funnel of some steaming craft,
A feather wide diffused hangs far abaft
Where it ascends, to spread away behind
Horizonward, where now it melts to sheen,
A long grey streamer floating on the wind ;
Or sailing ship, whose lance-like spar
The well-filled sail vibrating gladness bears —
“Heave, lads, ye ho!” shouts lustily each tar,
As on they speed the harbor sweet to find ;
And thou dost watch them near and far away,
As still thou standest this Centennial Day.


These on the water. On the sandy beach,
With unprotected feet and pail and spade,
And dresses above knees to readier wade,
Near by and all the sandy shore along,
Their little ships securely held to sail,
The children play ; while fishers mend their net
And reel it up, with whistling and gay song
To help. Where find more happy, gleeful throng ?
Their cheeks like roses of a brownish shade,
Laid on a groundwork soft as peach’s bloom,
And eyes like jewels in some setting pale,
Outflashing joy without a shade of gloom —
Roses and eyes are they, a prize to get !
And now their shouts and laughter our ears reach,
Of innocence, the joyful sound and speech ;
In their sweet hearts for guile is yet no room ;
A hundred years here passing, looking yet,
Continued, still is going on thy tale.


But landward look ! See lying all around,
As with their fragrance all the air is fraught,
So sweet and peaceful on enchanted ground,
Peach-tree and vine, quince, plum and apricot,
Pear-tree and apple, all everywhere abound.
The early violet, late forget-me-not,
June rose and autumn, too ; laburnum’s gold,
Accacia purply fair, and other blow
Follow along, until the spring is old,
Of deeper hue or white as driven snow,
Bringing such thoughts as prove though it be cold,
Love ever lives, and needs but cherishing.
Amidst which standing, thou time-honored pile,
Thy life sublime still by them nourishing,
The pride of which to our cheeks brings a glow ;
Inanimate indeed, yet living all the while,
As to and fro, in group and single file,
Men come and go, or swiftly or but slow ;
And whither ? Who can tell us ? Who can know ?
Living to-day — to-morrow perishing !
Yet still thou watchest the great river’s flow !


Still standest thou, and nigh as fresh and fair
As those who, blushing, came to thee as brides
Long years ago ; and still thy grace we laud,
Though faded theirs. Scene of many a story
Within thy sacred precincts has been viewed :
In days of peace, from worship nought divides
From thy true use ; yet did presumptuous dare
In day of war, in other nation’s name,
To claim thy shelter, and to change thy use,
And desecrate surrounding tombs, nor shame
To feel. Fragrant thine aisles of flowers there strewed,
‘Neath mourners’ feet and feet of those who glory
Bore — a throng of youth, mature and hoary —
Who came, who went, who yet return no more,
Though ears in listening attitude have waited,
Are waiting still, to hear them as of yore,
Hoping they homeward travel though belated,
Again to get the greeting of fond love —
The greeting sweet to give them in return ;
And eyes, too, strain out to the distance dim,
While prayer goes upward to the throne above ;
For while life lasts the holy fire will burn
On love’s high altar, and desire shall hymn
Each day its fondness forth, then upward turn,
In hopeful prayer, unto the ear of Him,
Who heareth ever, Whose best name is Love,
In Whom, though severed yet are all related.
Even now thy sacred walls and well-trod floor —
Holy to us because of those who trod
Thereon, who rest in peace to-day with God —
Re-echo still each footstep to our ear ;
Re-echo, too, in tones the while subdued,
The lessons taught of truth and fortitude,
.Which make the burdens that we still must bear
The easier borne ; re-echo, too, the prayer
Common to us as to them in their day,
Whose influence lives, though they have passed away ;
And principles, by which our sires imbued —
Like them to be, we well may hope and pray —
Made them, what now they ever shall appear,
Men that were MEN, whose bright, unsullied fame
Makes it our gladness to extol their name !
Yes, here they lived, and moved, and were endued
By that which only can be power — the fear
Of God — which them to Him, this land, their king,
As truth itself made true ; whose honor ring
The future ages shall, and whose high praise,
So long as men have voice, the true shall sing ;
Long as the sun on man shall shed his rays,
For them thy sons to God thanksgiving raise !


Thy holy priests— quaint Addison, sweet Creen ;
McMurray honored sees thy present day —
Surrounded were, as stars in heaven are seen,
By lesser lights along the Milky-way.
Bravely they labored for the common good,
Nor unreproached of such as should sustain —
Saints live not here alone on angels’ food ;
On rougher fare is fed their nobler name.
The path of virtue is a path of pain ;
Nor true is virtue where is never blame ;
For blame is fostered by the vicious rude ;
Nor lived the man who might no weakness claim,
Whatever height in grace he did attain.
My soul with theirs be joined, when, to the clay,
My body has been laid, like theirs, to rest !
Our dust, redeemed, at length shall waken blest,
And all made pure, as Christ doth make the heart,
To soul rejoin, as part to fitted part.
Death of this life, is but the crucial test —
The final proof of our triumphal faith
In Him, god-soul, Whose own thou surely art,
Who serve in life, and better prove in death.
They having proved His love’s length, height ; its breadth
And depth ; the beatific vision seen ;
Ended, and well, their holy ministry —
So well, thou art their monument, I ween !


Thy youth renew, surrounded, as thou art,
By such a host as round thee sleeping lie !
Live still ! connecting link for ages be,
Of those who live, those from the body free.
Alas ! poor mortals, we in turn must die !
To-day lives none who saw thy welcome birth ;
And who shall live thy final day to see ?
End of thy work and all complete thy worth ?
Live ! teaching still to all that better part
In Him, Whose witness still thou dost abide ;
And comfort sweet yet give to many a heart
Before it cross death’s dark and narrow firth !
Continue, then, no matter what betide
The ministers who serve, in course, in thee !
Live on ! for hearts their truest earthly home,
Until to heavenly home at length they come !
Chime thy sweet influence afar and nigh,
From thy pure centre, ‘neath the heavenly dome !
Live, though men die — a standing proof still be
Of Catholic faith and Christian liberty !
Out to the world God’s love in Christ still ring,
Until it echo from each mountain side !
Live, love and lift to every holy thing,
And ever prove the PALACE of the KING !

Source:  The Rev. J.C. Garrett. The Centennial: A Poem Written on the Centenary of St. Mark’s Church, Niagara, Ont.  (1792-1892). 1892

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