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

Middle States: Niagara, the River

The Falls of Niagara

By John Gardiner Calkins Brainard (1795–1828)

THE THOUGHTS are strange that crowd into my brain,

While I look upward to thee. It would seem

As if God poured thee from his hollow hand,

And hung his bow upon thine awful front;

And spoke in that loud voice, which seemed to him

Who dwelt in Patmos for his Saviour’s sake,

The sound of many waters; and had bade

Thy flood to chronicle the ages back,

And notch His centuries in the eternal rocks.

Deep calleth unto deep. And what are we,

That hear the question of that voice sublime?

Oh, what are all the notes that ever rung

From war’s vain trumpet, by thy thundering side?

Yea, what is all the riot man can make

In his short life, to thy unceasing roar?

And yet, bold babbler, what art thou to Him

Who drowned a world, and heaped the waters far

Above its loftiest mountains?—a light wave,

That breaks, and whispers of its Maker’s might.