‡‡‡‡Lo Niagara! down the depth profound
Plunges thy broad and mighty gleaming flood,
Fed by vast lakes, in symbol union bound.
On Table Rock, now fall’n, in youth I stood
Gazing on all the scene in rapt’rous mood.
There, at my level, the majestic stream
O’er long curv’d cliff, with ample plentitude,
Begins its stoop in reg’lar bending gleam;
Then falls till shape is lost in foam and misty steam.
‡‡‡‡ Perched on thin leaf of overhanging rock,
I venture to the edge and look below;
I see the eddying depth; and feel the shock,
The shore all trembling at the earthquake blow.
Ah, what if sudden dizziness should grow,
As, at Passaic cliff, in her who fell?
Or what if shock my foothold ledge o’erthrow,
And to abyss I sink with loosen’d shell?
The solitary fate no tongue could tell.
‡‡‡‡ But though no brother man with me did stand,
Yet God was there who scooped the basin wide
And poured the flood out from his hollow hand,
Yet God was there, whose voice on ev’ry side
Issued in thunders from the angry tide,
Yet God was there, the cloud-built arch to rear,
With mingled hues of beauteous brightness dyed,
Symbol once caused o’er wider flood t’appear,
Blest pledge of earth’s escape from destiny severe.
‡‡‡‡ Stand here, mortal presumptuous! and say —
While ear is stunn’d with torrent’s ceaseless roar,
And solid rocks do tremble with dismay —
Cannot God’s hand the flood of vengeance pour,
To sweep the proud, where they will boast no more?
Let warring tribes this voice of thunder hear,
And hush their rage, lest whirlpool wrath devour!
Christian! the bow of promise shines forth clear,
And thou mayst smile secure, when earth shall quake with fear.
Written in 1856.
Source: Myron T. Pritchard, comp. Poetry of Niagara. Boston: Lothrop Publishing Co., 1901