Niagara (1835 version) by Lydia Huntley Sigourney

sigourney
Lydia Huntley Sigourney
1791-1865
by Augustus Washington, 1855

 

 

Flow on for ever, in thy glorious robe
Of terror and of beauty !   God hath set
His rainbow on thy forehead, and the cloud
Mantled around thy feet.   And he doth give
The voice of thunder power to speak of Him
Eternally — bidding the lip of man
Keep silence,  and upon thy rocky altar pour
Incense of awe-struck praise.

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡And who can dare
To lift the insect trump of earthly Hope,
Or Love, or Sorrow, — ‘mid the peal sublime
Of thy tremendous hymn? — E’en Ocean shrinks
Back from thy brotherhood, and his wild waves
Retire abashed. —  For he doth sometimes seem
To sleep like a spent laborer, and recall
His wearied billows from their vexing play,
And lull them in a cradle calm : — but thou,
With everlasting, undecaying tide,
Dost rest not, night or day.

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡The morning stars,
When first they sang o‘er young Creation‘s birth,
Heard thy deep anthem — and those wrecking fires
That wait th’ Archangel‘s signal to dissolve
The solid Earth, shall find Jehovah‘s name
Graven, as with a thousand diamond spears,
On thine unfathomed page.   Each leafy bough,
That lifts itself within thy proud domain,
Doth gather greenness from thy living spray,
And tremble at the baptism.   Lo!  yon birds
Do venture boldly near, bathing their wing
Amid thy foam and mist. — ‘Tis meet for them
To touch thy garment‘s hem, — or lightly stir
The snowy leaflets of thy vapour wreath, —
Who sport unharmed upon the fleecy cloud,
And listen at the echoing gate of Heaven,
Without reproof.   But, as for us, — it seems
Scarce lawful with our broken tones, to speak
Familiarly of thee.   Methinks, to tint
Thy glorious features with our pencil‘s point,
Or woo thee to the tablet of a song,
Were profanation.

‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Thou dost make the soul
A wandering witness of thy majesty ;
And while it rushes with delirious joy
To tread thy vestibule, dost chain its step,
And check its rapture, with the humbling view
Of its own nothingness — bidding it stand
In the dread presence of th’ Invisible,
As if to answer to its God through thee.


Signed L.H.S., Hartford, Conn.

Source: Parsons, Horatio A.  A Guide to Travelers Visiting the Falls of Niagara.  2nd ed., greatly enlarged.  Buffalo: O.G. Steele, 1835

Also published in Tunis’s Topographical and Pictorial Guide to Niagara. Niagara Falls. W.E. Tunis, Publisher, 1855 under the title Apostrophe to Niagara

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

Also published in  Johnson, Richard L. (ed).  Niagara: Its History, Incidents and Poetry. Washington: Walter Neale General Book Publisher, 1898

 

Read about Lydia Huntley Sigourney

See the 1901 version of this poem

Untitled by Henry D. O’Reilly

table
The title page of the Table Rock Album

I have gazed on nature — here — abroad,
‡‡I have wandered o’er the briny deep;
Of all thy works, Almighty God,
‡‡This is the greatest, this is the chief.

A roaring cataract, ever foaming, ever rushing,
‡‡Ever boiling, ever raging, ever roaring, ever gushing
From some great source, which I dare not tell,
‡‡It dashes madly down, as though to the very pit of hell.

Presumptuous man, you dare to write
‡‡Of nature’s works and the Great Architect of all!
Bend down thy knee, and revere His might,
‡‡Who formed this cataract, who made this fall.

Henry D. O’Reilly was from Dublin, Ireland.

It is possible that Henry D. O’Reilly was the Irish immigrant who was influential in the development of Rochester, New York, and in the development of the Erie Canal. O’Reilly was also active in publishing. Click here for more information on O’Reilly.

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

This link takes you to the scanned version of  the 1855 version of Table Rock Album from the Hathi Trust

See the Table of Contents of the Table Rock Album on this site.

Stanzas to Niagara by Maria del Occidente (Maria Gowen Brooks)

spirit
Portrait of Maria Gowen Brooks (Maria del Occidente)

Spirit of Homer!   Thou whose song has rung
‡‡From thine own Greece to this supreme abode
‡‡Of Nature — this great fane of Nature’s God —
Breathe on my brain — oh! touch the fervid tongue
‡‡Of a fond votaress kneeling on the sod.

Sublime and beautiful, your chapel’s here ? —
‡‡Here ‘neath the azure dome of heaven ye’re wed —
‡‡Here, on this rock, which trembles as I tread!
Your blended sorcery claims both pulse and tear,
‡‡Controls life’s source and reigns o’er heart and head.

Terrific — but O! — beautiful abyss! —
‡‡If I should trust my fascinated eye,
‡‡Or hearken to thy maddening melody,
Sense — form — would spring to meet thy white foam’s kiss —
‡‡Be lapped in thy soft rainbows, once, and die.

Color, depth, height, extension — all unite
‡‡To chain the spirit by a look intense! —
‡‡The dolphin in his clearest seas — or thence
Ta’en, for some queen, to deck of ivory white,
‡‡Dies not, in changeful tints, more delicately bright.

Look — look! — there comes o’er yon pale green expanse,
‡‡Beyond the curtain of this altar vast,
‡‡A glad young swan; — the smiling beams that cast
Light from her plumes, have lured her soft advance —
‡‡She nears the fatal brink — her graceful life has past.

Look up! nor her fond foolish fate disdain; —
‡‡An eagle rests upon the wind’s sweet breath —
‡‡Feels he the charm? — woos he the scene beneath?*
He eyes the sun — nerves his dark wing again —
‡‡Remembers clouds and storms — flies the lovely death.

“Niagara! wonder of this western world,
‡‡And all the world beside! hail, beauteous queen
‡‡Of cataracts!” an angel, who had been
O’er heaven and earth, spoke thus — his bright wings furled,
‡‡And knelt to Nature first, on this wild cliff unseen.

Source: Maria del Occidente. Idomen; or, The Vale of Yumuri. New York: Samuel Coleman, 1843.  p 194-195.   View a copy on Archive.org

Also published with changes to the poem and no title in the 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

*Author’s note:

“An eagle rests upon the wind’s sweet breath!
Feels he the charm ? woos he the scene beneath ?

Those travellers who saw the falls of Niagara while the country about them was still a perfect wilderness, have said that many birds, and sometimes even eagles, would sail, as it were, upon the current of air, until retreat was impossible.

Since the falls have become a fashionable resort, wild animals, of course, have most of them deserted the place ; water fowl, however, are now not very unfrequently dee¢ived by the smoothness of the current, and perish in the manner of the swan described on the page mentioned.
With solitary birds of the air, it also might once have been the’ case. Dr. Goldsmith observes, that on some of the stupendous cliffs of Norway, the numerous hirds are so unaccustomed to the sight of man, that they know not his power to hurt them, and suffer the1nsclves to be taken
with the hand; even birds, however, are soon taught by experience to fly from danger.  M. de Chateaubriand’s description of the cataract of Niagara, and of the river Mississippi or “Mechacebe,” while both were untouched by any hand save that of Nature, is fine, perhaps, as any thing of the kind ever written.”

This link takes you to the scanned version of  the 1855 version of Table Rock Album from the Hathi Trust

See the Table of Contents of the Table Rock Album on this site.

Read about Maria Gowen Brooks here

Untitled by Anonymous

table
The title page of the Table Rock Album

Roll on, Niagara! — amid thy roar,
‡‡There is a voice that whispers me;
And breathes into my startled ear
‡‡One lone, wild word — ETERNITY.

 

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

This link takes you to the scanned version of  the 1855 version of Table Rock Album from the Hathi Trust

See the Table of Contents of the Table Rock Album on this site.

Untitled by Anonymous

table
The title page of the Table Rock Album

“On to the curtained shrine — ay, pass within
Into that trembling temple of the world;
And there stoop ‘mid the storm.   ‘T will visit you
In robes of darkness that will seem like night
Fallen on mid-day.    ‘T will come on you in song
Gigantic, but melodious — chorussed still,
Like a mad ocean heaved on iron shores
By tempests that stir earth’s foundation. — Go stand
Up amid the roar — ‘T will visit you if yet
A ray gleam through the twilight of your soul.”

 

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

This link takes you to the scanned version of  the 1855 version of Table Rock Album from the Hathi Trust

See the Table of Contents of the Table Rock Album on this site.