Niagara, an Allegory by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft


A New Map for Travelers Through the United States of America, 1846, by John Calvin Smith.
Image courtesy of The Library of Congress

An old grey man on a mountain lived,
He had daughters four and one,
And a tall bright lodge of the betula bark
That glittered in the sun.

He lived on the very highest top,
For he was a hunter free,
Where he could spy on the clearest day,
Gleams of the distant sea.

Come out—come out ! cried the youngest one,
Let us off to look at the sea,
And out they ran in their gayest robes,
And skipped and ran with glee.

Come Su, come Mi, come Hu, come Sa,
Cried laughing little Er,
Let us go to yonder broad blue deep,
Where the breakers foam and roar.

And on they scampered by valley and wood,
By earth and air and sky,
Till they came to a steep where the bare rocks stood,
In a precipice mountain high.

Inya ! cried Er, here’s a dreadful leap,
But we are gone so far,
That if we flinch and return in fear,
Nos , he will cry ha ! ha !

Now each was clad in a vesture light,
That floated far behind,
With sandals of frozen water drops,
And wings of painted wind.

And down they plunged with a merry skip 
Like birds that skim the plain ;
And hey ! they cried, let us up and try
And down the steep again.

And up and down the daughters skipped,
Like girls on a holiday,
And laughed outright, at the sport and foam
They called Niagara.

If ye would see a sight so rare,
Where nature’s in her glee,
Go, view the spot in the wide wild west,
The land of the brave and free.

But mark—their shapes are only seen
In fancy’s deepest play,
But she plainly shews their wings and feet
In the dancing sunny spray.

Source: Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.The Indian in His Wigwam, or, Characteristics of the Red Race. Buffalo: Derby & Hewson, 1848.

Also published in his The American Indians, Their History, Condition and Prospects. Buffalo: George H. Derby & Co., 1851

Also published in his Western Scenes and Reminiscences, Auburn: Derby & Miller 1853 

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