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THAT the stupendous cataract of Niagara, with its picturesque
associations, should have inspired the homage of many a gifted votary of the muse, need not provoke surprise. Yet any attempt
to depict a scene so essentially august and sublime,-transcending, indeed, the limits of the loftiest intellect adequately to portray, must of necessity fail to present it in all its stateliness and grandeur. Our poet BRAINARD's lines are, we think, among the best that have appeared on the subject :
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 food 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.
Brainard is not unknown to fame by his fine poem, The Connecticut River; which commences thus :
From that lone lake, the sweetest of the chain,
That links the mountain to the mighty main,
Fresh from the rock and swelling by the tree,
Rushing to meet, and dare, and breast the sea —
Fair, noble, glorious river! in thy wave
The sunniest slopes and sweetest pastures lave:
The mountain torrent, with its wintry roar,
Springs from its home and leaps upon thy shore :
The promontories love thee—and for this
Turn their rough cheeks, and stay thee for thy kiss.
The young oak greets thee at the water's edge,
Wet by the wave, though anchored in the ledge.
'Tis there the otter dives, the beaver feeds,
Where pensive osiers dip their willowy weeds,
And there the wild-cat purs amid her brood,
And trains them, in the sylvan solitude,
To watch the squirrel's leap, or mark the mink
Paddling the water by the quiet brink;
Or to outgaze the gray owl in the dark,
Or hear the young fox practising to bark.
Dark as the frost-nipp'd leaves that strew'd the ground,
The Indian hunter here his shelter found;
Here cut his bow and shaped his arrows true,
Here built his wigwam and his bark canoe,
Spear'd the quick salmon leaping up the fall,
And slew the deer without the rifle-ball :
Here his young squaw her cradling-tree would choose,
Singing her chant to hush her swart pappoose :
Here stain her quills and string her trinkets rude,
And weave her warrior's wampum in the wood.
No more shall they thy welcome waters bless,
No more their forms thy moonlit banks shall press,
No inore be heard, from mountain or from grove,
His whoop of slaughter, or her song of love.
Something of the Promethean fire of the Elizabethan age seems to glow in the following lines by PINKNEY, of Maryland :