Addressed to the sojourners at Niagara Falls, on commencing building the Pagoda, Aug. 11, 1843
Those who have rambled o’er the wild domain,
And still desire to view it once again,
Enter the garden where an Abbott dwelt,
And roam where he, enraptured, gazed and knelt.
Still, even yet those plaintive strains I hear,
Which once he wakened — and the pensive tear
Steals softly o’er my cheek, while the full heart
Essays to know what sorrow winged the dart
Which sent him forth, a wanderer from his home,
‘Mid these majestic scenes in silent grief to roam.
Say, wanderers ! would ye dare the wild excess
Of joy and wonder words can ne’er express ?
Would ye fain steal a glance o’er life’s dark sea,
And gaze, though trembling, on eternity ?
Would ye look out, look down,where God has set
His mighty signet ? Come — come higher yet,
And from the unfinished structure gaze abroad,
And wonder at the power of God ;
To the Pagoda’s utmost height ascend,
And see earth, air, and sky, in one alembic blend !
Up — though the trembling limb and nerveless hand
Strive to detain thee on the solid land ;
Up — though the heart may fail, the eye grow dim,
Soon will the spirit nerve the quivering limb.
Up the rude ladder ! gain the utmost verge ;
Far, far below, behold the angry surge ;
Beneath your feet the rainbow’s arch declines,
Gleaming with richer gems than India’s mines ;
And deep within the gulf, yet farther down,
‘Mid mist, and foam, and spray, behold Niagara’s crown.
Source: Tunis, W.E. Tunis’s Topographical and Pictorial Guide to Niagara. Niagara Falls, NY: W.E. Tunis, Publisher, 1855
The Pagoda that Almira refers to was at Point View, which “is a sudden elevation of the bank a few rods below the ferry-house Until five or six years ago, the adjacent grounds were tastefully arranged into a pleasure-garden and bowling-green. Upon this spot stood a Chinese Pagoda, surmounted by a camera-obscura. A few rods to the east of this stood the cabin of Francis Abbott. Apropos of the place, we subjoin Stanzas….”
Click to read more about Francis Abbott, the Hermit of Niagara, and to see other poems about him.
From George Drought Warburton’s Hochelaga; or. England in the New World, 1846 edition, p 129-130:
Now, the neighborhood of this great wonder is overrun with every species of abominable fungus — the growth of rank bad taste; with equal luxuriance on the English and American sides, Chinese pagoda, menagerie, camera obscura, museum, watch-tower, wooden monument, sea gardens, “old curiosity shops.” A boy handed me a slip of paper, on which were printed some stanzas of astounding magnificence signed ” Almira, ” much in the favorite style of the poet laureate to ” Moses and Son. ” I cannot refrain from giving a short quotation:
“ Would ye fain steal a glance o’er life’s dark sea ,
And gaze though trembling on eternity ?
Would ye look out , look down , where God hath set
His mighty signet ? Come – come higher yet ,
To the Pagoda’s utmost height ascend ,
And see earth, air, and sky in one alembic blend ! “
Note that the lines And from the unfinished structure gaze abroad, / And wonder at the power of God ; before the line To the Pagoda’s utmost height ascend, in the original poem by Almira, have been omitted.