Niagara Falls, June 1, 1874
The sun looks out of a cloudless sky ;
‡‡The winds are drifting the apple-blows
That over the grass like snow-flakes lie ;
The oriole wooes his mate as they fly ;
‡‡And William McCullough to labor goes.
A prayer is warm in the old man’s heart,
‡‡A song is quivering on his tongue ;
As he busily plies his wonted art
He watches the arrowy rapids dart
‡‡Under his scaffolding, safely hung.
A moment more and under the tide
‡‡Of wrathful waters his form is lost !
The river fiends fasten on his every side —
They pluck at his beard, they gibber and chide !
‡‡He is blinded and deafened and pelted and tost !
Weary and wounded, all breathless and sore,
‡‡More than half dead he is hurried away,
Close to the brink where the great waters pour,
Heedless and headlong with terrible roar,
‡‡Into a vortex where never was day !
What can prevent him ? O Father Supreme !
‡‡Darkness like this thou alone can illume !
See ! What is that in the turbulent stream ?
It is a glimpse — a half-comforting gleam
‡‡Of floating grey hair mid the circling spume !
Yes ! he is clutching with half palsied hand
‡‡Yon God-given guerdon — a pillar of stone —
He whispers with Death and looks toward the land
Where he never again with his fellows may stand’
‡‡Who powerless must leave him to perish alone !
But lo ! who is coming with masterly stride,
‡‡Pride on his forehead and strength in his frame ?
Tom Conroy, the guide, who was never defied,
He laughs at the danger — and braving the tide
‡‡Is bound with a cord to the chariot of Fame.
Strong was the rope that was fast to the shore,
‡‡And under the coil was a heart big and brave —
Aye, braver to-day than ever before,
He reaches the rock — and like Perseus of yore —
‡‡He rescues his friend from the fiend of the wave !
When the names of our heroes are written or sung,
‡‡We will chant your name Conroy in musical stave
When palsied your arm and silent your tongue,
The child now unborn, shall hear how you flung
‡‡Yourself in the wave, a comrade to save !
Source: Niagara Gazette, June 10, 1874
Read an article on the rescue of William McCullough by Tom Conroy from the Buffalo Evening Courier & Republic, June 2, 1874