Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Middle States: Niagara, the River


By Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813–1892)


I STOOD within a vision’s spell;

I saw, I heard. The liquid thunder

Went pouring to its foaming hell,

And it fell,

Ever, ever fell

Into the invisible abyss that opened under.

I stood upon a speck of ground;

Before me fell a stormy ocean.

I was like a captive bound;

And around

A universe of sound

Troubled the heavens with ever-quivering motion.

Down, down forever—down, down forever,

Something falling, falling, falling,

Up, up forever—up, up forever,

Resting never,

Boiling up forever,

Steam-clouds shot up with thunder-bursts appalling,

A tone that since the birth of man

Was never for a moment broken,

A word that since the world began,

And waters ran,

Hath spoken still to man,—

Of God and of Eternity hath spoken.


And in that vision, as it passed,

Was gathered terror, beauty, power;

And still, when all has fled, too fast,

And I at last

Dream of the dreamy past,

My heart is full when lingering on that hour.