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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

British America: St. Lawrence (Cadaraqui), the River

Rapids of the Lachine

By Charles Sangster (1822–1893)

WITH whirl sublime, and with what maelstrom force,

The frantic waters strike our plunging bark;

The rage defiant and the thunderings hoarse,

These bring no fears to our devoted ark

That bounds securely to its distant mark.

See how the tortured deep heaps surge on surge!

What howling billows sweep the waters dark!

Stunning the ear with their stentorian dirge,

That loudens as they lash the rocks’ resisting verge.

To what shall we compare thee,—thing of dread!

What grand resistless Terror, armed, art thou?

Strife’s awful champion, autocrat and head,—

The mighty Wrestler to whom all must bow

That feel thine iron grasp. O stern of brow

As Lucifer amid his cowering crew!

How like a scourge, a mad Attila, now,

He charges with his Hun-like retinue,

The flying hosts of waves to vanquish and subdue!

The Hounds of Peril guard this fearful spot;

And yet we dare to tempt the narrow way,

Cutting a passage through the Gordian Knot

Of reefs and breakers, as the vast array

Here bursts in dazzling drifts of diamond spray,

Here bids defiance to all human skill;

Lifting up vast, herculean busts of gray,

As if to awe the mind or shake the will,

Pursuing us like fates adown the tumbling hill.

O awful Shape! that haunts the dread abysm;

That hold’st thy Reign of Terror evermore;

What grave offence, what unforgiven schism,

Consigned thee hither from the Stygian shore?

Why troublest thou the waters with thy roar?

No angel footstep, thine, of rest and peace,

But some lost soul’s for whom no open door

Leadeth to where thy spirit-toils shall cease,

With no commissioned arm stretched forth for thy release.


And we have passed the terrible Lachine,

Have felt a fearless tremor thrill the soul,

As the huge waves upreared their crests of green,

Holding our feathery bark in their control,

As a strong eagle holds an oriole.

The brain grows dizzy with the whirl and hiss

Of the fast-crowding billows as they roll

Like struggling demons to the vexed abyss,

Lashing the tortured crags with wild demoniac bliss.