Untitled by John G. Saxe

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saxe
Niagara River Whirlpool. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

See Niagara’s torrent pour over the height,
‡‡How rapid the stream! how majestic the flood
Rolls on, and descends in the strength of his might,
‡‡As a monstrous great frog leaps into the mud!

Then, see, o’er the waters, in beauty divine,
‡‡The rainbow arising, to gild the profound 
The Iris, in which all the colours combine,
‡‡Like the yellow and red in a calico “gownd!”

How splendid that rainbow!  how grand is the glare
‡‡Of the sun through the mist, as it fervently glows,
When the spray with its moisture besprinkles the air
‡‡As an old washerwoman besprinkles her clothes!

Then, see, at the depth of the awful abyss,
‡‡The whirlpool careering with limitless power,
Where the waters revolve perpetually round.
‡‡As a cooper revolves round a barrel of flour!

The roar of the waters! sublime is the sound
‡‡Which forever is heard from the cataract’s steep!
How grand! how majestic! how vast! how profound!
‡‡Like the snore of a pig when he’s buried in sleep!

The strong mountain oak and the tall towering pine,
‡‡When plunged o’er the steep with a crack and a roar,
Are dashed into atoms ― to fragments as fine
‡‡As a pipe when ‘t is thrown on a hard marble floor!

And O! should some mortal ― how dreadful the doom!―
‡‡Descend to the spot where the whirlpool carouses,
Alas! he would find there a rocky tomb,
‡‡Or, at least, he’d be likely to fracture his “trowsers!”

Source: Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery Adjacent. Buffalo: Steam Press of Thomas and Lathrops, copyright by Jewett, Thomas & Co.,1856c.1848

Also published in: Hackstaff’s New Guidebook of Niagara Falls.  W. E. Tunis & Co., 1853

Niagara To Its Visitors by H. Lindsay

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lindsay
Devil’s Hole Rapids, as seen along Great Gorge Route, 1910. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

O ye, who come from distant climes,
To visit me and read my rhymes,
Ere you condemn my noise and vapor,
Read what I have to say on paper.
Through LAKE SUPERIOR, it true is,
I descend from old ST. LOUIS.
I’m a wise child, you see, and rather
Proud to know and own my father.
MICHIGAN nurses me in her lap;
HURON feeds me with SAGINAW pap;
ST. CLAIR then undertakes to teach,
And tries to modulate my speech.
Through ERIE next I guide my stream,
And learn the power and use of steam.
I’m christened next, but losing my humble-
Ness, I get an awkward tumble.
And though musicians all agree,
I pitch my loud outcry on E,
Sure two such tumbles well may vex,
And make me froth up Double X.
Although the rapids rather flurry me,
And into the wheeling whirlpools hurry me,
The Devil’s Hole does most me scare, I oh!
And makes me glad to reach
 ONTARIO.
Traveled so far ‘t is thought of vital
Importance I should change my title;
And though it should be his abhorrence,
They make my sponsor old St. Lawrence.
The course I steer is rather critical,
For, not much liking rows political,
‘Twixt both my favors I divide —
Yankee and British, on each side.
And wandering ‘mongst the “Thousand Isles,”
With equable and constant motion,
I gladly run to meet the ocean.
Once my deep cavern was a mystery,
But now ‘t is known like Tom Thumb’s history,
By ladies, gents, natives and strangers,
Led on by Barnett through my dangers,
And come to try my “cold without;”
While those who like it best can get
A good supply of “heavy wet.”
I fear no money-broker’s pranks —
They’re welcome to run on my banks,
I pay no money nor “mint drop,”
Yet dare them all to make me stop.
I’m proof against malignant shafts;
Am ready still to honor drafts;
Have a large capital afloat,
More current than a U.S. note;
And I can liquidate all debt,
Though much is dew from me; and yet,
About myself I often vapor —
But ne’er before have issued paper.
You may think this a brag or a
Boast of        Truly Yours,         
NIAGARA.

Falls Hall Cave, half past 11, July 25th, 1837.

Source: Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery Adjacent. Buffalo: Steam Press of Thomas and Lathrops, 1856c.1848

See other poems in the Table Rock Album

Uncle Alvin at Niagara by Almon Trask Allis

Alvin   

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Artist’s Sketch of Three Sisters and Goat Islands Just Above Niagara Falls. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

“The last excursion of the year,” I read the other day,
Affordin’ opportunity to see grand old Niagara ;
And for a dollar and a half, to go up there and back,
And see the sights, and ride above two hundred miles of track,
Seemed like we’d get our money’s worth, if we could get away,
And leave the farm and kitchen cares behind us for a day.
We’d been a-wantin’, all these years, to go and see the falls,
But, somehow, when the chances came there’ d be so many calls
For both our time and money, that the chances slipped away,
While year climbed on the top of year, ’til we are growin’ gray ;
And still the cares we have to meet are such a clingin’ kind,
It’s often mighty difficult to slip them off behind,
And dump them in a heap somewhere, or lay them on a shelf,
While we get out from under, and can slip off by ourself.
But nature seemed to favor us ; the season was so fine
We got our summer’s work along a bit ahead of time ;
And nothin’ seemed a-crowdin’, like, and coaxin’ to be done,
As is the case too frequently, to keep us on the run ;
And Nancy hadn’t been away, exceptin’ to the fair,
To loosen up the constant strain of daily wear and tear
Of wrestlin’ with problems which perplex a woman’s brain,
And keep her fingers busy, and her muscles on the strain,
For such a long time back that I’m almost ashamed to tell,
And if I really wanted to, I couldn’t very well ;
And I, myself, had worked so long, as farmers have to do,
To keep the work from snarlin’, like, and keep it payin’, too,
That I was glad to see a chance to lay aside the strain
Which makes the years to tell on me as well as Nancy Jane ;
And when I read the notice, why, it seemed to strike us so,
That both of us together said, “I guess we’d better go.”
And so the thing was settled, and we’d picked our grapes and plums
To be ahead of frost or thieves, provided either comes ;
For frosts may be expected almost any pleasant night,
And thieves, if not expected, are so plenty that they might ;
And Nancy had our luncheon baked, and I had bought some cheese,
And she had found a paste-board box, as handy as you please
To put our picnic dinner in ; so when the mornin’ came,    Continue reading “Uncle Alvin at Niagara by Almon Trask Allis”

The River Niagara by Donald Lashelle

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1930’s Aerial View of Niagara Falls. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡I

In nature, all acts that have gone before
Leave traces, record marks, clues, tracks in store
That many persons pause to ponder o’er.
From inside outwards was the earth’s crust made,
The hollows caved in, the high mountains stayed,
Encircling flames produced the waters vast,
And time and seasons scaled things to the last.

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡II

Would thirty thousand years of effort score
On your astonishment a mark, or more?
Then hearken to a tale of work replete
With action in rain, sunshine, frost and sleet.
The speaker is NIAG’RA RIVER, old,
Clear, turbulent, odd, scenic giver, bold.

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡III

With strength unshorn by time, and white of brow,
But not from years, I am the center now
For myriads that travel from far and
Near to view my Falls as the cascade grand.
My life is in the cycle of the rain,
My strength from waters the Great Lakes retain.

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡IV

The first to view the drainage plan, of three
Such large lakes flowing into Erie free,
Thence through me to a fifth and on to sea,
Said, “This is quite rare and not apt to be.”
Important link am I, from fourth to last,
The present scanned, the future viewed, or past.

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡V

The deep flow of my misting Horseshoe Falls,
Out does thin water leaping from side walls.
The view and sound effects are rapturous,
The roar, thump grind and spray continuous.
At what they sense, the millions gaze appalled,
Awondering, breath indrawn, stilled, enthralled.   Continue reading “The River Niagara by Donald Lashelle”

Niagara by George Houghton

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houghton niagara
A Distant View of the Falls of Niagara. 1835, by Thomas Cole.  Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library.

Formed when the oceans were fashioned, when all the world
‡‡was a workshop;
Loud roared the furnace fires, and tall leapt the smoke
‡‡from volcanoes,
Scooped were round bowls for lakes, and grooves for the
‡‡sliding of rivers,
Whilst, with a cunning hand, the mountains were linked
‡‡together.

Then through the day-dawn, lurid with cloud, and rent
‡‡by forked lightning,
Striken by earthquake beneath, above by the rattle of
‡‡thunder,
Sudden the clamour was pierced by a voice, deep-lunged
‡‡and portentous —
Thine, O Niagara, crying: “Now is created completed!”

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡II.

Millions of cup-like blossoms, brimming with dew and with
‡‡rain-drops,
Mingle their tributes together to form one slow-trickling
‡‡brooklet;
Thousands of brooklets and rills, leaping down from their
‡‡home in the uplands,
Grow to a smooth, blue river, serene and flowing in
‡‡silence.

Hundreds of smooth, blue rivers, flashing afar o’er the
‡‡prairies,
Darkening ‘neath forests of pine, deep drowning the reeds
‡‡in the marshes,
Cleaving with noiseless sledge the rocks red-crusted with
‡‡copper,
Circle at last to one common goal, the Mighty Sea-Water.

Lo! to the northward outlying, wide glimmers the stretch
‡‡of the Great Lake,
White-capped and sprinkled with foam, that tumbles its
‡‡bellowing breakers
Landward on beaches of sand, and in hiding-holes hollow
‡‡with thunder,
Landward where plovers frequent, with the wolf and the
‡‡westering bison.    Continue reading “Niagara by George Houghton”