To Avoid an Unpleasant Tryst by Christopher Ellis

Niagara Falls from the Maid of the Mist Boat, 2022
Photo by Andrew Porteus

A young girl who’d never been kissed
To avoid an unpleasant tryst
She paddled her skiff
O’er the watery cliff
Becoming the Maid of the Mist

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

Public Aid for Niagara Falls by Morris Bishop

Tourist at Niagara Falls
Photo by used under Creative Commons Licence from PxHere

Upon the patch of earth that clings
‡‡Near the very brink of doom,
Where the frenzied water flings
‡‡Downward to a misty gloom,

Where the earth in terror quakes
‡‡And the water leaps in foam
Plunging, frantic from the Lakes,
‡‡Hurrying seaward, hurrying home,

Where Man’s little voice is vain,
‡‡And his heart chills in his breast
At the dreadful yell of pain
‡‡Of the waters seeking rest;

There I stood, and humbly scanned
‡‡The miracle that sense appalls,
And I watched the tourist stand
‡‡Spitting in Niagara Falls.

Source: Baker, Russell (ed.) The Norton Book of Light Verse. New York: Norton, 1986.

Originally published in Bishop, Morris. Spilt Milk. New York: Putnam, 1942

Read about Morris Bishop

Untitled by Anonymous

The title page of the Table Rock Album

I came to see ;
I thought to write ;
I am but ——— dumb.

Source: Holley, George W., ed.  The Falls of Niagara.  Baltimore: A.C. Armstrong & Son, 1883

Originally from The Table Rock Albums. Click to see the Table of Contents on this site.


Lines in a Young Lady’s Album by Peter A. Porter

Col. Peter Augustus Porter (1827-1864)
Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons


An artist, underneath his sign, (a masterpiece, of course),
Had written, to prevent mistakes, ‘This represents a horse’;
So ere I send my Album Sketch, lest connoisseurs should err,
I think it well my Pen should be my Art’s interpreter.

A chieftain of the Iroquois, clad in a bison’s skin,
Had led two travelers through the wood, La Salle and Hennepin.
He points, and there they, standing, gaze upon the ceaseless flow
Of waters falling as they fell two hundred years ago.

Those three are gone, and little heed our worldly gain or loss—
The Chief, the Soldier of the Sword, the Soldier of the Cross.
One died in battle, one in bed, and one by secret foe;
But the waters fall as once they fell two hundred years ago.

Ah, me! what myriads of men, since then, have come and gone;
What states have risen and decayed, what prizes lost and won;
What varied tricks the juggler, Time, has played with all below:
But the waters fall as once they fell two hundred years ago.

What troops of tourists have encamped upon the river’s brink;
What poets shed from countless quills, Niagaras of ink;
What artist armies tried to fix the evanescent bow
Of the waters falling as they fell two hundred years ago.

And stately inns feed scores of guests from well replenished larder,
And hackmen drive their horses hard, but drive a bargain harder;
And screaming locomotives rush in anguish to and fro:
But the waters fall as once they fell two hundred years ago.

And brides of every age and clime frequent the island’s bower,
And gaze from off the stone-built perch—hence called the Bridal Tower—
And many a lunar belle goes forth to meet a lunar beau,
By the waters falling as they fell two hundred years ago.

And bridges bind thy breast, O, stream! and buzzing mill-wheels turn,
To show, like Samson, thou art forced thy daily bread to earn;
And steamers splash thy milk-white waves, exulting as they go,
But the waters fall as once they fell two hundred years ago.

Thy banks no longer are the same that early travelers found them,
But break and crumble now and then like other banks around them;
And on their verge our life sweeps on—alternate joy and woe:
But the waters fall as once they fell two hundred years ago.

Thus phantoms of a by-gone age have melted like the spray,
And in our turn we too shall pass, the phantoms of to-day:
But the armies of the coming time shall watch the ceaseless flow
Of waters falling as they fell two hundred years ago.

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 and Other Famous Cataracts.  Baltimore: A.C. Armstrong & Son, 1883

Holley says of this poem: “The most graceful verses on Niagara ever written by a resident are the following by the late Colonel Porter, who was an artist both with the pencil and the pen. They were written for a young relative in playful explanation of a sketch he had drawn at the top of a page in her album, representing the Falls in the distance, and an Indian chief and two Europeans in the foreground.”

Read The Poetry of Peter A. Porter by Michelle Ann Kratts

Read about Colonel Peter A. Porter 

Niagara Sulks by Norman R. Jaffray

Durfboger-LaCasse Wedding at Niagara Falls
James Photography Studio, September 19, 1959
Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

I’VE seen them come, I’ve seen them go,
‡‡Too numerous to mention,
And I put on a mighty show
‡‡To capture their attention.

I hurl me boldly down the cliff
‡‡And thrash myself to spray,
Yet none of them would notice if
‡‡I ran the other way.

I think it’s very rude to me
‡‡That any groom and bride
Should come this distance just to be
‡‡So darned preoccupied !

Source:  Saturday Evening Post, May 22, 1948

Biographical sketch of Norman R. Jaffray. Saturday Evening Post, March 28, 1942:

Jaffray, Just Jaffray

NORMAN JAFFRAY first appeared in Post Scripts sixteen years ago and he’s been appearing there with regularity ever since. You’ll even find him there this week, with WHODUNIT? Acceding to a deluge of requests from four readers (Hansel, Ole, Sergi and Tong Lee Jaffray), we are this week shaking down the fruit of Mr. Jaffray’s persistence.

Here he is:

“Yes, here I am—but guess which? Not the one in uniform—no-o. Not the one in the middle — no-o, but you’re getting warmer. . . . The scene is Santa Barbara, where I live, the friends. Flying Officer Robert French, RAF, and Mrs. Shreve Ballard, and the background is the blue Pacific (advt.).

“Where to start? Born? Yes. In Brooklyn, N. Y., and came to this country as a small boy.That was in 1904. Roosevelt was President—he still is; horse and buggy were the popular mode of transportation—nothing has changed.

” I went to Yale and then to Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 1926 I came out West. The country was filling up, and men sought new lands where they could start life afresh. I picked on Los Angeles, and it was there that Ted Cook, of the Examiner, printed my first piece in Cook-Coos. I’ve been freelancing ever since. I’m not even married.

” The other day I went to Los Angeles again, this time for a rendezvous with some fellow contributors to Post Scripts. Local No. 138 of the Curtis chain gang, comprising Ethel Jacobson, Kay Hosking and your correspondent, met and passed several resolutions, which were quickly tabled. Just to give you an idea of what shop talk among writers is like:

ETHEL: I liked that Christmas poem of yours—the one with the bad scansion.
KAY: Done anything lately, yourself?
ETHEL: Yes, something for Easter.
NORMAN (apprehensively): Nothing long, I hope?
ETHEL: Whole column.
KAY: Don’t you ever get sick or anything?
ETHEL; Do you like Y?
KAY AND NORMAN; Like that. (Gesture of cutting throat)
KAY: How about Z?
ETHEL AND NORMAN: Well, Z’s stuff is pretty good. Of course, it doesn’t rhyme and . . .
NORMAN; Well, I’ve got to drive back to Santa Barbara. (Goes to door, feeling for knife in shoulder blades.) And please . . . please don’t talk about me when I’m gone! (He goes. They do.)”